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Silver School Board hears from a parent, Cliff personnel, and new superintendent

Also discussed was the school board election next year

By Margaret Hopper

The November 15 school board meeting for Silver Schools was held in Cliff. It was the first appearance of new District Superintendent Lon Streib, formerly of Sundance, Wyoming. His introductory comments spoke of the potential and many benefits he had seen in the past two weeks getting acquainted with the schools and the community. He said he thanked Dick Pool for having a balanced budget, reserves for a rainy day and people dedicated to doing the hard work of preparing students for an uncertain future.

In the first citizen’s inquiries place on the agenda, John Tedford, a parent, asked the board to look into an incident at Jose Barrios involving his daughter, a special needs child, who had been wrongly picked up by another person on October 22. Later, she was returned to school and the right child sent with the person.



Tedford outlined the length of time involved, the trauma to his family, the many misunderstandings that resulted, and the failed presumptions that law enforcement had been notified. These led him to ask for a full review of the processes working at the school. As Tedford concluded, Streib asked if he would discuss it again in his office the next morning. Tedford said he would be there.

Cliff School’s Principal Chip Ellwanger and teacher Gaylene Agnew presented visuals for the board showing the individual tracking records the school has for every student, kindergarten into high school. The report allows teachers to show progress, or the lack of it, in all major subjects over the years the students are enrolled. It appeared to be an easy-to-fill-in, easy-to-read grid allowing scores to be entered at report card times, with other spaces for short comments near the end.

Agnew said Cliff teachers had put this together three years ago, and they thought it might be helpful to the board in its present search for the Individual Educational Plan (IEP) it hoped to develop for district students as one of its present goals. Ellwanger said the plan holds a lot of data that backs up reasons for decisions about student placement.

Agnew also passed out copies of the letter sent to Cliff in October, commending it for significantly increasing its ACT student scores and participation over the past five years, which stated that students had proven their college readiness. The letter said Cliff was in a group of only 12 high schools in the state of New Mexico to achieve this level of readiness. Ellwanger commented that many of their students passed this in the junior year, and the next effort was to keep them growing, not resting on past efforts.

Board member Charlotte McGaughey asked Associate Superintendent Trish Martinez what had resulted from the grant opportunity she had applied for as “Read to Lead." Martinez said it had not been funded. Of seven successful grants in New Mexico, six had been awarded to northern New Mexico, only one to the southern area, Lovington. The amount of the seven grants totaled 2.6 million dollars. Martinez said she continued to write grant applications for the district; many of them appeared more likely to be approved for the northern rather than the southern parts of the state.

Looking at the February school board elections, Associate Superintendent Candy Milam reminded the board that several issues were to be voted on that day. There were three board positions, districts 1, 2, and 4. She said 4, Holguin’s position, was a partial two years ago and that the regular term would be voted on this year. Remmel’s and McGaughey’s positions are in districts 1 and 2.

The two-mill document comes up only once in several years. Her comment was that the two-mill tax was critical for building maintenance and operations in general. The documents were prepared and must be handed in at the county clerk’s office by Monday.

Another issue was the VCC center voting places. Member Debbie Eggleston asked where those would be, noting that in the November 6 General Elections, none of them had been available to voters in areas like Cliff, Gila, Buckhorn and other rural precincts. Milam said the county clerk assured her that where the VCCs were placed was up to the board.

Barry Ward, Facilities Director, will make a presentation to Grant County Prospectors Legislative Communication Forum on November 30. Streib said much of the presentation would be about capital construction, and Prospecters would reach legislators later, making certain that local needs would be recognized.

Streib said he was also working on a strategic plan, which included board members and principals to make sure they all communicated on major efforts. He thought a couple of days together would set this in place, and updates and adjustments in later years would keep momentum going.

Another plan Streib was working on was ‘school reach,' a way for communications in emergencies as well as in good times, for parents and others. He said he would have a report ready by next month regarding means and costs to set this forward. Rather than call for a formal vote, he asked permission to continue and the board gave him that.
Regarding the Vo Tech, the feasibility study was the last work done on that.

The board asked Milam to comment on board compensation, noting that Eggleston traveled a 70-mile round trip to attend meetings, and there had been many extras this year. As it appears to be allowed legally, no action will be taken; Eggleston should simply apply for the mileage. Eggleston said any help with travel might make it more likely that interested citizens from these distant areas would run for the school board.

Under Action Items, Milam’s check totals amounting to $1,653,441.25 for the month were approved, as well as Benakis’s request for a four-and-a-half miles per day on the Shelly Farm route, amounting to an additional $1,800 for the year, and permission for Montoya Transportation to add another bus to do contracted work, no money added for the contract. These were passed.

The next meeting will be the third Thursday in December, at the District Office.

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