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Cobre School Board discusses budget and superintendent search

Cobre school board members met Monday evening at the district office in Bayard on June 25, 2012. Member Frank Gomez was absent. Frank Cordova called for the end of the closed meeting, which discussed student identifiable work, limited personnel and litigation issues. The open session began at 7:05 p.m.

Temporary Superintendent George Peru said the proposed Board Retreat should be scheduled for August 3 and 4, the week before the beginning of school on August 9. The best news he could give the board was that the deficit of $1,036,000 had been met by staff adjustments and program changes. About $904,000 had been made up by the last board meeting. The figure of $999,824.89 had been made up to this date.  “If all goes well, the Cobre District should start the new fiscal year beginning in July in the black,” he said. “We are at that $999,000 mark, almost the $1 million mark.”

The state advance for Bayard Elementary for work planned at $2.5 million was delayed until late September or October, so the work was also delayed until December, according to Peru. “Once we get it, they will give us five years to pay it back. When we are able to bond ourselves, we can bond ourselves at $3 million. Then we will pay them back.” He said they had already paid back the work at Snell and Hurley Elementary. Their credit was good with the State.

This would also delay the planned move of Bayard classes to Snell until the holiday breaks of either Thanksgiving or Christmas. This would be good timing, as it would not leave the building empty too long. After the move, they would get the bids and start construction. The asbestos work would be done at that same time.

Central Elementary work would be finished by August 12, just a few days after school starts, and Peru said. He thought the work on Central was some of the best being done in recent years. The improvements to both Snell and Hurley were good, but Central would be a point of pride; perhaps the best to be seen so far. At the next board meeting, he might plan for the board to go over to Central and look it over. “The tile work is fantastic,” he said.

It would be getting six-foot wide sidewalks around the building, and the bus lane was improved. It was possible the state would help with up to 55 percent of the costs and the expenses could be deferred to a later date. Bayard teachers have already packed, so he will be emailing them to give updates shortly.  

The superintendent search yielded four names for consideration. According to Frank Cordova, they had the interviews last week. Included was Gerald Snider of an Albuquerque charter school; Snider had attended WNMU. Michael May was a Las Cruces program director. Cordova said May had been at Cobre in the past. Robert Mendoza of Anthony was a principal of an El Paso school. He had 38 years experience and was also educated at Western. The last one was Dr. Mark Space. “He was here at our school also,” said Cordova. “These four people were very interested.”

The next step would be a board meeting to discuss these applicants. Cordova thought Friday would be the time for that. “We can have a meeting to see which direction we are going to go.” They decided to meet on Friday at 5:00 p.m.

The board approved the bills as received. The amount was $1,219,968.29. Peru asked that the board approve the final allocation on transportation, which was now $34,869. Cordova noted that the figure had begun as $492,000 plus and had been adjusted. Peru explained it as the difference from what actual expenses were. It was a budget adjustment.  

Peru asked that the board approve a final allocation on Senate Bill 9, but as members said they couldn’t find it and hadn’t read it, that was tabled for the next board meeting.

Construction costs involved the changing status of the high school. Before last year it had been rated 74th in the state, but because of ‘cosmetic’ issues, had been rated again and it had fallen to 316th, which put it out of consideration for certain state funding. Peru said they had been working on infrastructure, such as plumbing. With the lowered rating there would not be help from the state.

“What we will do now is paint classrooms and hallways, and we will continue to work on the infrastructure.” Peru said they had already taken care of 700 feet of sewer work but it looked like there would not be state help on this building for years to come because of the low ranking. And next year, they would paint the outside as funding allowed. He wanted the community to see they were taking care of the ‘cosmetic’ needs, too.

The paving outside also needed a lot of work. There was patching and paving to be done. Some holes were extremely large. In the future some places needed concrete work along with the paving where heavy trucks had done damage. As they received grant money, some of which might amount to about $20,000, they would work on the priorities.

Under public input, Margaret Hopper of the Grant County Beat asked about the $34,000 adjustment. Peru said it covered both contract and athletic bus expense. They needed that amount over what had been originally planned, as fuel prices had risen. He said one way to try to hold down those expenses was to work with both the county and the town of Silver City. Perhaps the bulk purchases with these places combined would save some money.

Javiar Salas said one consideration in looking for a superintendent would be the status quo. “The leadership that is in place is looking at all the problems and changes that have to incur; I would hate for someone to come in that’s not really familiar with everything and make changes that aren’t going to be viable in our district…” Frank Cordova responded that that was being considered as they did the interviewing.

Cordova said he had some information from Public Education Secretary Hannah Skandera on the Kids First Program. As he realized the rest of the board didn’t have it, he would see that it was copied and shared.

The next board meeting would see work on Senate Bill 9. The meeting adjourned at 7:35 p.m.

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