Cobre School Board retains George Peru as Interim Superintendent

By Margaret Hopper

Frank Cordova, board president, opened the public meeting at 7:05 p.m. Monday night, July 9, saying the board had toured Central Elementary at 5:00 p.m. “We were all pretty impressed with what we saw,” he said. The board had also gone into executive session at 5:57, according to Cordova, to discuss limited personnel issues, budget and litigation. No decisions had been made, and all board members were present.

A final allocation, SB-9 (31700) was presented to the board for approval, which they did. A second accountability report was tabled as temporary superintendent George Peru seemed to have misplaced the necessary papers for the report.

Under administrative items, Peru asked for approval of the Legal notice of 2012-2013 board meetings. Board member Frances Kelly asked if area newspapers and radio stations had asked for that FCC license to announce Cobre board meetings. Peru said yes, the Las Cruces Sun News was the paper that asked for news most often and asked the earliest. No radio stations had asked for this information. The board passed the motion unanimously.
The Open Meeting Resolution was passed without discussion.

Four people had applied (on this second round of applications) for the position of superintendent: Gerald Snider, Albuquerque; Michael May, Las Cruces; Robert Mendoza, Anthony; and Dr. Marc Space, Las Cruces.

“Each candidate was called, and we set up interviews. After the interviews, we had a work session for the board to review the positives and the negatives of the applicants, and at that time it was deemed that we would have the four applicants and we would add a fifth choice, which was keeping the team that we have now, George Peru, as an interim. And at this time, the chair will entertain a motion, or motions, for the candidates," said Cordova.

Kelly moved that the board seriously consider Dr. Marc Space for superintendent. Frank Gomez moved that Peru and the team be kept. Lacking further nominations, Cordova closed nominations and asked for comments on Space.

Louis Baum said he would like to speak for Space but was not in the position to do so, because on the first round, his application and resume was removed from the group; he was not considered at that time. “But…still, because of his PHD, hopefully he would raise the school to another level, focusing on the kids. I certainly endorse Mr. Space.”

Roberto Martinez, saying he was a long time teacher of Cobre district, said: "Peru has done a pretty good job. His ability to do the job has been shown over the last year. When he first started last year, we were in a deficit. The last board meeting I came to, we were almost at zero. Mr. Peru has given his all; his interest is in the school. And I personally feel that he is the one that should be put in place.”

Freddie Rodriguez, board member, echoed the words of Martinez. “Mr. Peru and the committee have come and have really taken our district ‘by the horns’ so to speak, and have done a great job. He has some projects going on, ... Central, …. Bayard, I want him to stay in, finish the job.”

Rosalee Alirez asked if hiring Peru was as a superintendent or an interim. Cordova responded the motion was, ‘as an interim.’ He didn’t think there would be any legal issues. The last time the district had an interim superintendent, it was for more than three years.

Kelly and Sepulveda voted for Space. Gomez, Rodriguez and Cordova voted for Peru and the team. The board voted to go into executive session again to discuss the interim contract with Peru. After about a 20-minute break, the board and Peru returned to their seats. On the board’s return, Cordova said the board had discussed Item C, Superintendent, and had offered a one-year interim contract to Peru. He had accepted and was congratulated.

The next item was test scores. Peru reported that test scores were embargoed until 2 p.m. this afternoon when PED released them. Every school had dropped a letter grade, Bayard from C to D, Central to F, Hurley from A to B, but Cobre High had risen from C to B. He was concerned that Hurley had missed A status so narrowly; 75 was A and it had dropped to 73.7, now B. “We will appeal every one of these grades,” he said. “We can’t figure the formula,” he said, and that was needed to plan how to raise local school scores.

Some teachers who had recently resigned were Kerry Taylor, science and ag; Patty West, going to WNMU as a trainer; Norma Bender, Pre K; and Sonja Worley, school psychologist.  Betty Conway, Spanish Teacher, has retired, said Peru.  

Under Public Input, Chris Salcido, Cobre teacher, spoke about football camp for July 16-17, asking for use of the field between 4 and 9 p.m. He said both flag and tackle would be addressed, and topics such as health, fitness and nutrition would be given. Saturday games would be planned. He is trying to build the program for youth football.

Louis Baum said he wanted to comment on the superintendent. He thought the board would want a person with a doctorate in education, and he thought the board failed the students in the mining district in not selecting one of the four candidates who had initially applied, with those credentials. On the meeting on December 15, three of those people still were available, but not contacted until months later in March.

Baum added, “As I said before, I was told by many people that this would happen in this process, and you all would select the person you wanted to select… I would hope that as the interim is for one year, that you would open up the candidate process again in the fall … so that we could look at some more candidates. Thank you for the opportunity for sharing my feelings.”

Kelly Osuna, teacher, thanked Baum for being on the selection committee and for all his work on it. She said teachers had also asked to be part of the selection process and she felt they had been ignored.

The board adjourned a little before 8:00 p.m., saying the Allocation Report would be on the next agenda.

Live from Silver City

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