By Lynn Janes

On October 19, 2021 Silver City Daily Press held a Facebook forum for the school board candidates in Silver and Cobre. Questions were taken from the virtual audience and Hannah Dumas, reporter for the Silver City Daily Press. Nicholas Seibel moderated the forum. Each candidate was giving an opening statement not to exceed three minutes.

Silver City

District 4 – Michelle Diaz

“The hardest thing about being a school board is about understanding your role. This has been a learning experience but the main reason for going into this is to enrich the experience of every child.” Diaz said her focus was about moving forward. “We must look at the content of our curriculum. We now have a new superintendent, someone to lead and help us move past the mediocracy.” She said they are looking to do better and can always do better.

District 4 – Heather Stephens

Stephens said she loves what Diaz is doing and that her running has nothing to do with her, they just live in the same district. She said she was raised in Ruidoso, attended NMSU, and then attended an Arizona university. She has been in the New Mexico education her entire life. “There are problems with the curriculum in New Mexico.” She had to take remedial classes at the university because she was not prepared and it is a statewide problem. She said she wants to give a voice to the parents and get them involved.

Cobre

Position 1 - Serina E. Murillo

Murillo said she is a Grant County native and a current level 3 teacher and in her eighth year of teaching, five of those at Cobre. She said she has a bachelor’s in history and a master’s in teaching from WNMU. Being a teacher, she has a different perspective and sees room for improvement. She recognized that there was a teacher shortage. She also acknowledged that she herself was not as prepared as she should have been when she when to college.

Position 1 – Albert S. Holguin

Holguin said he was born in Santa Rita (born in space) and lives in Hurley. He received a master’s degree in teaching and administration in 1975. Cobre used to be in the top ten in New Mexico and now it has dropped considerably. Students need to be ready for college or trade schools.

Position 2 – Gilbert Diaz Guadiana

Guadiana said he currently is serving on the board and has for the past four years. He said it has been interesting times and very contested. He finds it troubling that unity is not there. “Outside perspectives are not being very well accepted.” He is a Cobre graduate and computer science graduate of WNMU. Guadiana worked at the mines for ten years and then was accepted to Harvard for the Kennedy school of government program. He received a master’s in public administration and moved to California. He came back to New Mexico to care for his father. He said it has been a challenge. “It is time to get with it, New Mexico is number 50 in education, and we are in dire straits. It is time for change.” He said we need strategic planning, transparency and accountability.

Position 2 – Reynaldo R. Maynes

Maynes said he was a resident of Santa Clara. He lives there with his wife and has three kids and four grandchildren. He is a former Santa Clara municipal judge (2014-2016) and has been a wrestling coach. He wants to meet the needs of the students.

Position 3 – Gabriel A. Holguin

Holguin said he is a 1991 graduate of Cobre and lives in Arenas Valley. He has four kids and has a vested interest in being involved in education. He said he has seen the good and bad the last four years on the board. “There is opportunity for growth and improvement. The problems need to be dealt with head on to benefit the kids and teachers. The students need to be prepared for college or trade schools.”

Position 3 – Doug R. Miranda

Miranda said he wants to be part of a new spirit of cooperation. He said he has seen too much frustration even with the parents and it must end. He is looking forward to working with the new superintendent to create teamwork and unity. “We are the kids’ role model.” He said: “We have the best teachers in the state, and we need a board to support them. There has been a lot of infighting. My line will always be open to the public; it is about the kids.”

Hannah Dumas from the Silver City Press posed a question to the candidates. How can the board improve internet to everyone so students can have better access?

Position 3 – Doug R. Miranda

Miranda said he would start by supporting the superintendent and administration to help pursue finding the new technology to help. “When those plans are brainstormed with the board that is how we solve the problem in a productive fashion.”

Position 3 – Gabriel Holguin

Holguin said they would start looking for opportunities to fund it because it is not cheap. “We need to improve the internet through grants, Freeport, etc. He said we need to find the right contractors that can do this, it is a community wide issue. Covid showed us not everything had to be in person, and it gave us an opportunity to utilize technology to help our kids.”

Position 2 – Renaldo R. Maynes

Maynes said he would support getting grants for these issues and meet with all the providers and see “what we could do. Collaborate with the vendors, WNM Communications, Comcast, etc.” He said the challenges with this forum shows “how our teachers were challenged. The board needs to come together with our superintendent and technical support people to find out what the challenges are because they are in the trenches and deal with it all the time.”

Position 2 – Gilbert Guadiana

Guadiana said: “No one was prepared for the internet issues we had last year. We got our computers four month after the provider said.” He said he had asked for an increase in IT staff because of the demand but the district would not do it. “Innovation is not persued to make things easier for the teachers of students.”

Position 1 – Albert Holguin

Holguin said he would ask teachers what they needed. “Teachers have a lot of ideas but are never asked.”

Position 1 – Serena Murillo

Murillo said: “The silver lining of all of this pushed us into the twenty-first century. They received chrome books and hot spots for the internet. Cobre did a good job.” She said they did need to be properly trained to use the different programs. Administrations could have done better at support with training but did great with the technology. She added in that Comcast did have a program, internet essentials, for low-income families to have service at $10 month.

Silver City

District 4 – Heather Stephens

Stephens said she knew a lot about this because she had three students that were part of the quarantine. “They were provided with broadband cards for school. Parents need to be educated on the availability of these cards.” She said her broadband was not able to handle three kids on the internet at the same time. “There needs to be more training. Childcare was an issue. Parents needed more training on how to use these programs.”

District 4 – Michelle Diaz

Diaz said broadband is a big issue, but “it forced us to deal with it. There was growth, we found a way to work with it and we had better communication.”

Audience question

“How have you personally got people to vote yes for the mill levy bill, SB9?”

Position 2 – Gilbert Guadiana

Guadiana said for the first time since 1974 the bill failed. Everyone he talked to said they had not voted for it because of transparency. They also said they had not seen any improvements. He said he had explained how important this bill was and it gives them matching funds for projects. He had been supporting a radio show that has been educating the public about the bill.

Position 2 – Reynaldo Maynes

Maynes said while campaigning he had been pushing the bill and letting everyone he talks to how important it is and what it is. He said: “We do need to prioritize and use the monies wisely.”

Position 3 – Gabriel Holguin

Holguin said he supports it in conversations and explains the importance of the bill. “We need transparency” and he shares their concerns.

Position 3 – Doug Miranda

Miranda said he goes out and talks to people letting them know it provides money for the grounds, keeping repairs on facilities and upgrades. “Our children are our future rather you have kids or not.”

Position 1 – Serena Murillo

Murillo said she has been talking to people directly on the importance of the mill levy. People are telling her the reason for not voting for it is the lack of transparency. She said: “We need to tell people what it is being used for.”

Position 1 – Albert Holguin

Holguin said when he is out talking to people, he is telling them to vote even if it is someone else and to vote yes for the mill levy. People need to know what it is used for. There used to be pamphlets but does not see them anymore.

Silver City

District 4 – Michelle Diaz

Diaz said it is important that people know it will not raise their taxes and how important it is to the schools. “It has a huge impact on our schools. It cannot be used for new builds or structures, that money pays the light bill. The superintendent has been speaking everywhere he can about it and there are pamphlets in multiple places now.”

District 4 – Heather Stephens

Stephens said she has been encouraging all voters she talks to on the importance of this bill. “We do need transparency but need this for our kids.”

Hannah Dumas from the Silver City Daily Press posed another question. Athletics are important but they do take a disproportionate time at meetings sometimes and how would you balance that?

District 4 – Heather Stephens

Stephens said academics need to come first and athletics are a privilege. “However, sports are very important to our children.” Seibel asked her as a board member what would she do when a group of parents took over a meeting. She said: “Communicate outside the board meeting.”

District 4 – Michelle Diaz

Diaz said athletics are near and dear to her heart, but academics must come first. “They provide life building skills from extracurricular activities.” She would communicate outside the board meeting.

Cobre

Position 3 – Doug Miranda

Miranda said athletics are important and teach good lessons, but academics must come first. In the event of a situation at a board meeting he would do mediation.

Position 3 – Gabriel Holguin

Holguin said sports and activities are a privilege and academics are the priority. Where there was a conflict, he would look at the policies and adjust fairly.

Position 1 – Albert Holguin

Holguin said academics come first and athletics are a privilege. “We must focus on academics. Activities help the academics, but academics must be first.”

Position 1 – Serena Murillo

Murillo said it is the role of the superintendent to supervise and oversee the coaches and extracurricular activities. “Academics must come first but extracurricular activities are very important.” As a teacher she said she tries to work with her students but sometimes there are consequences. “Athletics are very good for social and emotional health.”

Position 2 – Renaldo Maynes

Maynes said education is r and wrestling is second. “You must follow the chain of command and the students must be on top of their grades.”

Position 2 – Gilbert Guadiana

Guadiana said he agreed with Maynes on the hierarchy, but the school board had to mediate. He said they have not had that problem at Cobre. Sports are integrated into the school and there is a great deal of opportunity with sports that is untapped. They could be doing study groups, occupational therapy, physical therapy, strategic planning, etc. “Cobre has made a huge investment in sports.”

Audience question. “What is the purpose of education in our communities and the larger global context? How should the Yazzie Martinez case change our schools pathologically and structurally?”

Cobre

Position 1 – Serena Murillo

Murillo said: “We need to make sure students are productive members of society and achieve their dreams. It School Board Candidate Forum

By Lynn Janes

On October 19,2021 Silver City Daily Press held a Facebook forum for the school board candidates in Silver and Cobre. Questions were taken from the virtual audience and Hannah Dumas, reporter for the Silver City Daily Press. Nicholas Seibel moderated the forum. Each candidate was giving an opening statement not to exceed three minutes.

Silver City

District 4 – Michelle Diaz

"The hardest thing about being a school board is about understanding your role. This has been a learning experience but the main reason for going into this is to enrich the experience of every child." Diaz said her focus was about moving forward. "We must look at the content of our curriculum. We now have a new superintendent, someone to lead and help us move past the mediocracy." She said they are looking to do better and can always do better.

District 4 – Heather Stephens

Stephens said she loves what Diaz is doing and that her running has nothing to do with her, they just live in the same district. She said she was raised in Ruidoso, attended NMSU, and then attended an Arizona university. She has been in the New Mexico education her entire life. "There are problems with the curriculum in New Mexico." She had to take remedial classes at the university because she was not prepared and it is a statewide problem. She said she wants to give a voice to the parents and get them involved.

Cobre

Position 1 - Serina E. Murillo

Murillo said she is a Grant County native and a current level 3 teacher and in her eighth year of teaching, five of those at Cobre. She said she has a bachelor's in history and a master's in teaching from WNMU. Being a teacher, she has a different perspective and sees room for improvement. She recognized that there was a teacher shortage. She also acknowledged that she herself was not as prepared as she should have been when she when to college.

Position 1 – Albert S. Holguin

Holguin said he was born in Santa Rita (born in space) and lives in Hurley. He received a master's degree in teaching and administration in 1975. Cobre used to be in the top ten in New Mexico and now it has dropped considerably. Students need to be ready for college or trade schools.

Position 2 – Gilbert Diaz Guadiana

Guadiana said he currently is serving on the board and has for the past four years. He said it has been interesting times and very contested. He finds it troubling that unity is not there. "Outside perspectives are not being very well accepted." He is a Cobre graduate and computer science graduate of WNMU. Guadiana worked at the mines for ten years and then was accepted to Harvard for the Kennedy school of government program. He received a master's in public administration and moved to California. He came back to New Mexico to care for his father. He said it has been a challenge. "It is time to get with it, New Mexico is number 50 in education, and we are in dire straits. It is time for change." He said we need strategic planning, transparency and accountability.

Position 2 – Reynaldo R. Maynes

Maynes said he was a resident of Santa Clara. He lives there with his wife and has three kids and four grandchildren. He is a former Santa Clara municipal judge (2014-2016) and has been a wrestling coach. He wants to meet the needs of the students.

Position 3 – Gabriel A. Holguin

Holguin said he is a 1991 graduate of Cobre and lives in Arenas Valley. He has four kids and has a vested interest in being involved in education. He said he has seen the good and bad the last four years on the board. "There is opportunity for growth and improvement. The problems need to be dealt with head on to benefit the kids and teachers. The students need to be prepared for college or trade schools."

Position 3 – Doug R. Miranda

Miranda said he wants to be part of a new spirit of cooperation. He said he has seen too much frustration even with the parents and it must end. He is looking forward to working with the new superintendent to create teamwork and unity. "We are the kids' role model." He said: "We have the best teachers in the state, and we need a board to support them. There has been a lot of infighting. My line will always be open to the public; it is about the kids."

Hannah Dumas from the Silver City Press posed a question to the candidates. How can the board improve internet to everyone so students can have better access?

Position 3 – Doug R. Miranda

Miranda said he would start by supporting the superintendent and administration to help pursue finding the new technology to help. "When those plans are brainstormed with the board that is how we solve the problem in a productive fashion."

Position 3 – Gabriel Holguin

Holguin said they would start looking for opportunities to fund it because it is not cheap. "We need to improve the internet through grants, Freeport, etc. He said we need to find the right contractors that can do this, it is a community wide issue. Covid showed us not everything had to be in person, and it gave us an opportunity to utilize technology to help our kids."

Position 2 – Renaldo R. Maynes

Maynes said he would support getting grants for these issues and meet with all the providers and see "what we could do. Collaborate with the vendors, WNM Communications, Comcast, etc." He said the challenges with this forum shows "how our teachers were challenged. The board needs to come together with our superintendent and technical support people to find out what the challenges are because they are in the trenches and deal with it all the time."

Position 2 – Gilbert Guadiana

Guadiana said: "No one was prepared for the internet issues we had last year. We got our computers four month after the provider said." He said he had asked for an increase in IT staff because of the demand but the district would not do it. "Innovation is not persued to make things easier for the teachers of students."

Position 1 – Albert Holguin

Holguin said he would ask teachers what they needed. "Teachers have a lot of ideas but are never asked."

Position 1 – Serena Murillo

Murillo said: "The silver lining of all of this pushed us into the twenty-first century. They received chrome books and hot spots for the internet. Cobre did a good job." She said they did need to be properly trained to use the different programs. Administrations could have done better at support with training but did great with the technology. She added in that Comcast did have a program, internet essentials, for low-income families to have service at $10 month.

Silver City

District 4 – Heather Stephens

Stephens said she knew a lot about this because she had three students that were part of the quarantine. "They were provided with broadband cards for school. Parents need to be educated on the availability of these cards." She said her broadband was not able to handle three kids on the internet at the same time. "There needs to be more training. Childcare was an issue. Parents needed more training on how to use these programs."

District 4 – Michelle Diaz

Diaz said broadband is a big issue, but "it forced us to deal with it. There was growth, we found a way to work with it and we had better communication."

Audience question

"How have you personally got people to vote yes for the mill levy bill, SB9?"

Position 2 – Gilbert Guadiana

Guadiana said for the first time since 1974 the bill failed. Everyone he talked to said they had not voted for it because of transparency. They also said they had not seen any improvements. He said he had explained how important this bill was and it gives them matching funds for projects. He had been supporting a radio show that has been educating the public about the bill.

Position 2 – Reynaldo Maynes

Maynes said while campaigning he had been pushing the bill and letting everyone he talks to how important it is and what it is. He said: "We do need to prioritize and use the monies wisely."

Position 3 – Gabriel Holguin

Holguin said he supports it in conversations and explains the importance of the bill. "We need transparency" and he shares their concerns.

Position 3 – Doug Miranda

Miranda said he goes out and talks to people letting them know it provides money for the grounds, keeping repairs on facilities and upgrades. "Our children are our future rather you have kids or not."

Position 1 – Serena Murillo

Murillo said she has been talking to people directly on the importance of the mill levy. People are telling her the reason for not voting for it is the lack of transparency. She said: "We need to tell people what it is being used for."

Position 1 – Albert Holguin

Holguin said when he is out talking to people, he is telling them to vote even if it is someone else and to vote yes for the mill levy. People need to know what it is used for. There used to be pamphlets but does not see them anymore.

Silver City

District 4 – Michelle Diaz

Diaz said it is important that people know it will not raise their taxes and how important it is to the schools. "It has a huge impact on our schools. It cannot be used for new builds or structures, that money pays the light bill. The superintendent has been speaking everywhere he can about it and there are pamphlets in multiple places now."

District 4 – Heather Stephens

Stephens said she has been encouraging all voters she talks to on the importance of this bill. "We do need transparency but need this for our kids."

Hannah Dumas from the Silver City Daily Press posed another question. Athletics are important but they do take a disproportionate time at meetings sometimes and how would you balance that?

District 4 – Heather Stephens

Stephens said academics need to come first and athletics are a privilege. "However, sports are very important to our children." Seibel asked her as a board member what would she do when a group of parents took over a meeting. She said: "Communicate outside the board meeting."

District 4 – Michelle Diaz

Diaz said athletics are near and dear to her heart, but academics must come first. "They provide life building skills from extracurricular activities." She would communicate outside the board meeting.

Cobre

Position 3 – Doug Miranda

Miranda said athletics are important and teach good lessons, but academics must come first. In the event of a situation at a board meeting he would do mediation.

Position 3 – Gabriel Holguin

Holguin said sports and activities are a privilege and academics are the priority. Where there was a conflict, he would look at the policies and adjust fairly.

Position 1 – Albert Holguin

Holguin said academics come first and athletics are a privilege. "We must focus on academics. Activities help the academics, but academics must be first."

Position 1 – Serena Murillo

Murillo said it is the role of the superintendent to supervise and oversee the coaches and extracurricular activities. "Academics must come first but extracurricular activities are very important." As a teacher she said she tries to work with her students but sometimes there are consequences. "Athletics are very good for social and emotional health."

Position 2 – Renaldo Maynes

Maynes said education is r and wrestling is second. "You must follow the chain of command and the students must be on top of their grades."

Position 2 – Gilbert Guadiana

Guadiana said he agreed with Maynes on the hierarchy, but the school board had to mediate. He said they have not had that problem at Cobre. Sports are integrated into the school and there is a great deal of opportunity with sports that is untapped. They could be doing study groups, occupational therapy, physical therapy, strategic planning, etc. "Cobre has made a huge investment in sports."

Audience question. "What is the purpose of education in our communities and the larger global context? How should the Yazzie Martinez case change our schools pathologically and structurally?"

Cobre

Position 1 – Serena Murillo

Murillo said: "We need to make sure students are productive members of society and achieve their dreams. It has been three years since the Yazzie Martinez case and the state is still revamping and we have not done enough. We need to train our teachers."

Position 1 – Albert Holguin

Holguin said students need to be productive members of society and ready for whatever they want to do. He said he was not familiar with the Yazzie Martinez case. "We need to fund education no matter what and find a way to pay teachers more."

Position 2 – Gilbert Guadiana

Guadiana said society has moved forward so fast, light years ahead, and education has not kept up. He commented on the Yazzie Martinez case and said the governor had not acted on it.

Position 2 – Reynaldo Maynes

Maynes said there needs to be equality and equity in education. "All students need to get an equal education. The purpose is to have students ready to be prepared for any direction they want to go."

Position 3 – Gabriel Holguin

Holguin said: "We need to prepare our students to be productive and to represent us in the community well. They need to know there is life beyond Grant County and the United States. Yazzie Martinez case is common sense. Every student has the right to an equal education."

Position 3 – Doug Miranda

Miranda said: "Our purpose is to prepare the students to be productive and be able to survive and compete on a global level. This is a multicultural world. The Yazzie Martinez case was a failure to educate the poor. We need to make sure no one falls through the cracks."

Silver

District 4 – Michelle Diaz

Diaz said the Yazzie Martinez case forced the districts "to not be able to say no we don't have the money. It forces us as a board to be creative and find a way to afford it. The purpose of education is to equip our kids to do what they are passionate about."

District 4 – Heather Stephens

Stephens said: "Our job is to prepare our students to become better people and be prepared. Disabilities are sometimes not recognized. Parents need to know where they can go for the IEP process and the Yazzie Martinez case brought that to light."

Silver City Daily Press question from Hannah Dumas. "How will you make the board remain civil especially when discussing topics where there is disagreement? What skills will you use to resolve conflict when it arises? How would you work with fellow board members even when you don't agree?"

Silver

District 4 – Heather Stephens

Stephens said she has a degree in mediation. "You must use empathy and compassion to reach a compromise. In the end it comes to a vote." The number one goal is for the school, but she has not seen any conflict in Silver board meetings.

District 4 – Michelle Diaz

Diaz said disagreements can be a good thing and part of transparency. It is a process and needs to be respectful.

Cobre

Position 2 – Reynaldo Maynes

Maynes said there is a lot of tension at Cobre. "It is good to agree and disagree. We need to be prepared before the meetings and remember we are role models and leaders. Solutions are needed to stop the divisiveness and work together. Humility and respect go a long way." He said he stepped down as wrestling coach because he wanted to make a difference with the board.

Position 2 – Gilbert Guadiana

Guadiana said there is no secret of the dynamics of the current board. "Issues are brought up and there is no discussion. Many things are done behind closed doors outside of the meeting. The board needs to follow the rules of operation and there is a lack of transparency."

Position 3 – Doug Miranda

Miranda said the board can't keep going this way; "we need a unified board. There needs to be communication and transparency with everyone. Healthy debate is how we will grow. The board must be role models. We can disagree, still get along and get business done."

Position 3 – Gabriel Holguin

Holguin said diversity of thought and perspective is key to any organization. There is room for robust discussion. "We need solid leaders with a mission and values. This is an opportunity for a change in leadership on the board and it would be healthy for new viewpoints."

Position 1 – Albert Holguin

Holguin said five people will not have a consensus, but they must remember they have to work together. They are there for the betterment of the kids and education and if they can't remember that they should not be there.

Position 1 – Serena Murillo

Murillo said disagreements are going to happen, "but you must be civil." She said she has been watching the school board meetings on YouTube and it has been frustrating to watch. There is an obvious lack of preparedness, agendas are wrong, and it starts the meetings off badly. Many things could be resolved before the meetings.

Closing statements. Seibel also ask if they would maybe address the future. What would the board look like in four years and what would the candidate be most proud of after the term. Seibel also asked that they give their contact information.

Cobre

Position 3 – Doug Miranda

Miranda said he hopes to look back in four years and see a unified school board and getting it done with healthy debates. He hopes to see an improvement.
575-493-4799

Position 3 – Gabriel Holguin

Holguin said: "Come out and vote and I encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity to have a change for the health and good of the board. We need a new perspective and open minds.
575-313-9812 or gilajumper@gmail.com

Position 2 – Reynaldo Maynes

Maynes asked the audience to come out to vote and for the mill levy bill. "Four years from now we will have a successful board and a great superintendent because of new leadership at Cobre."
575-313-1233 or nmpropainters@yahoo.com

Position 2 – Gilbert Guadiana

Guadiana said: "I am running for change even though I am currently on the board. I want to bring back public trust and transparency. We need to address disproportionate pay for the administration and stop board members from advocating for family members instead of more qualified candidates." He went on to say that teachers need to be represented so they feel empowered and appreciated. The board needs a lot of correction. The reason for the discourse is no strategic plan. He said he stands eager for change and asked everyone to be sure to support SB9 mill levy. "We are in trouble if SB9 does not pass, there is a lot of maintenance that needs to be done that has not been done in past years."
575537-3582 or gilbertguadiana@me.com

Position 1 – Albert Holguin

Holguin said four years from now "we are working for the betterment of the kids and our kids are prepared to go out into the future. If we can make a difference in one life it is worth it." He said last time he was on the board he asked for a babysitting building, and it is still being used and has been helpful. He said:"Just vote for me or someone else and vote yes on the mill levy."
575-538-4901

Position 1 – Serena Murillo

Murillo said four years from now she hopes to see an improvement in culture and a more positive board. She said please vote no matter who you vote for.
575-912-1998 or msserenamurillo@gmail.com or her Facebook page

Silver

District 4 – Heather Stephens

Stephens said four years from now she hopes for less politics in school and focus on the students. Positive change is needed, and the new superintendent has been transparent. She said she wanted to see a larger parental contribution and a return of the PTA. She wants the parents to understand the foundation for education starts at home.
575-654-3184 or stephensh79@gmail.com or Facebook page or vote4heathers.com

District 4 – Michelle Diaz

Diaz said at first, she had been appointed to her position, but she comes with experience and insight. She said she is a OBGYN doctor in the community and her husband is a teacher and coach. "Kids need to be put first and move forward with positive change and not settle for mediocrity."
575-388-1561 Cassie Health Center or mdiaz@silverschools.org or 575-538-4312

This Zoom meeting can be viewed on the Silver City Daily Press Facebook page.

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