By Lynn Janes

The Cobre Consolidated Schools held their board meeting July 25, 2022. The board norms were read before roll call. The norms consist of five rules the board strives to adhere to during the meeting. The list includes: to actively listen to all perspectives, respond to concerns and questions as a unified board, professionalism expected, assume positive intent, and be positive and responsive. President Gilbert Guadiana called the meeting to order. Serena Murillo and David Terrazas, board members, also attended, as did Superintendent Jeff Spaletta . The pledge of allegiance and salute to the New Mexico flag took place.

The board held a short work session to go over the applicants for the open positions left by Ralph "Toy" Sepulveda and Frank Cordova. Murillo asked if the Grant County clerk's office had vetted the applicants to make sure they lived in the district and were registered voters so they would be eligible to serve. Spaletta said no and Guadiana said they could ask in the interviews. After some discussion they decided to pick two and then make sure they would be eligible. They talked about ranking them and Murillo opposed doing that. Guadiana said they should select two pending eligibility. A person attending said they thought they had to appoint someone immediately. Guadiana explained they had 45 days from resignation to appoint someone else to serve. He explained further that they needed three to run the board and that is why the state had appointed Terrazas when Molina resigned.

The board approved the agenda with two minor changes that Spaletta asked for. He asked that after approval of the agenda if they could move POMS and Associates reunification plan presentation and do the interviews after.

Grant Banish, senior risk control manager for POMS and Associates, gave the board a presentation of the plan that had been put together in case of an event that caused the schools to close early. He said they had worked seven months on this with the schools, law enforcement, fire departments, and community leaders. This plan could be implemented for several reasons. He said POMS had 30 years of smarter insurance and they had been working with schools all over New Mexico at no cost to the districts to put these plans together. The plan would form a means of a safe and orderly documented reunion of students with families in the event of an emergency or school closing. He explained that this could be used not just for a violent event but maybe loss of utilities or a hazmat issue.

Banish gave a full presentation on how the process works and all the flow charts to explain further. The reunification site chosen would be the Grant County Veterans Memorial Business and Conferece Center.

Murillo asked about families that do not have vehicles. How would they come get their children at the convention center? Guadiana asked how they would verify the people picking up the students? Some discussion went on about these questions.

Deana Davis, human resource director, said they have been in the process of updating all the students files with current photos and information. All of this would be on a computer and would be taken to the conference center.

Terrazas asked if they could find a place closer. Davis said several places had been considered but the convention center would be the best for space, traffic, etc. All on the board felt this would be too far. Banish explained they would want to get the students away from the situation and have a place giving the best logistics. He agreed they would look at it again. Guadiana stressed again it would be too far.

Banish said a staff training would take place onAugust 8, with a full-scale drill on September 23.

Guadiana asked about the schools not affected and Banish said generally the other schools go into a lockdown of some kind and the parents always want to come get them.

Annette Acosta, dean of students at Snell Junior High, said reunification is the end process. She said it can several things can implement the plan, and it gives the district a structured process. Law enforcement and school administrators would assess the threat level.

The board moved on to the interviews. They had five people to interview, and they had come up with six questions for each one to answer.

Roberto Dominguez

Why should we select you?
He said he grew up and graduated from Cobre. His kids have all gone through Cobre and now he has grandkids going to the Cobre schools. He said he feels education has gone by the wayside and he has an interest in their wellbeing.

What is the board's biggest challenge?
Unity. The community needs to get involved and bring it back together.

If the board votes a different way from you, how will you support that vote?
He said we need to let the negative go.

There is a shortage of teachers and substitutes. What is the role of the board with this?
Recruiting from WNMU (Western New Mexico University) or qualified retired teachers should be looked at.

How would you interact with the board to make it unified?
Team unity. He said he had experience with other boards. The board needs to work together.

Do you have problems raising questions against the status quo?
No problem.

Gabrielle Begay

Why should we select you?
She said she has been on many boards and had a good relationship with them. She said she understands board procedures and has successfully worked with difficult personalities. She said she has good organization and teamwork skills.

What is the board's biggest challenge?
Teacher retention which has been a nationwide problem.

If the board votes a different way from you, how will you support that vote?
She said she would support the majority vote.

There is a shortage of teachers and substitutes. What is the role of the board with this?
The board should look at retired teachers, more substitutes and paid internships.

How would you interact with the board to make it unified?
Listen to and hear people out. Board retreats could be a good to help unify everyone. She said they needed to remember why they got on the board.

Do you have problems raising questions against the status quo?
No problem.

Sharon Miller

Why should we select you?
She said she retired from teaching, came back and retired again. She said she felt this would be the next step to help.

What is the board's biggest challenge?
Closing the schools was not the right thing. The schools had never been set up for it. Many of the parents did not get involved and the isolation for kids caused many problems.

If the board votes a different way from you, how will you support that vote?
Board majority rules. She said the board needs to cooperate and practice civility.

There is a shortage of teachers and substitutes. What is the role of the board with this?
Alternative licensure needs to be looked at. Being able to come back after retirement would be important.

How would you interact with the board to make it unified?
Civility, integrity and supporting the end decision.

Do you have problems raising questions against the status quo?
No problem.

Elizabeth Dean

Why should we select you?
She said she has been a lifelong member of the community. She said she has been a member of several boards and is familiar with contracts. She was a teacher for eight years. She said she has a love for the community and has organizational skills.

What is the board's biggest challenge?
Teacher retention

If the board votes a different way from you, how will you support that vote?
The board must be supported; this will be a team effort. People's egos must be put aside.

There is a shortage of teachers and substitutes. What is the role of the board with this?
Need to look at alternative licensure. We have people that are experts in some fields and have a lot of knowledge they could pass on to students. Retired teachers would be another choice to look at.

How would you interact with the board to make it unified?
Honest communication would be important. She said what the board does matters. A cohesive group can make a difference.

Do you have problems raising questions against the status quo?
No problem.

Curtis Beerens

Why should we select you?
He said he had a lot of management experience. He has been on several boards and city council. He said he had worked with large budgets and been accountable.

What is the board's biggest challenge?
Need of staffing. He said they needed to improve on what they can offer.

If the board votes a different way from you, how will you support that vote?
People will not always agree. The majority needs to be supported and all need to work together.

There is a shortage of teachers and substitutes. What is the role of the board with this?
The problem can't be fixed overnight but looking at retired teachers would be a start. The board should look at recruiting from local colleges and high schools.

How would you interact with the board to make it unified?
He said getting to know one another would be a good start. Training would be important and courtesy at all times.

Do you have problems raising questions against the status quo?
No problem.

Guadiana told the board they had three minutes to prioritize the list. He commented that he has been very pleased by all the candidates.

Murillo also commented on being impressed with all the candidates.

A discussion took place on how they would nominate the candidates. They finally decided to nominate based on the open position.

Sepulveda's position
Murillo nominated Begay
Terrazas nominated Dean
Guadiana nominated Miller

Begay got a vote of yes from Murillo and Guadiana, Terrazas voted no.

Cordova position
Murillo nominated Dean
Guadiana nominated Dominguez
Terrazas did not have a nomination

Dean got a vote of yes from all three.

Guadiana said interest should not end here. He said the board needs their input and support.

The new board members will be sworn in at the next meeting in August pending eligibility.

At that time the board will look into training for everyone on the board.

The board approved the minutes from the July 11, 2022, board meeting

The board approved the bills that previously had been approved by the finance committee.

The board approved the disposition of property list with one add on. The add on had some discussion about what and which vehicle.

The board approved Jaramillo Accounting Group to do the 2022-2023 audit. They had received three proposals for the audit. Spaletta said they had all been close and it would be a three-year contract with a yearly choice for renewal.

The board approved the backpack program with The Commons for Bayard Elementary.

Unfinished business

Spaletta said he needed the board members to volunteer to work on policy changes and additions. They had discussion around days to meet and length of the process.

The Central Elementary gym project has been in the development stage and meetings with the engineer and contractor have taken place.

Public input on agenda items none currently.

Superintendents report

Spaletta turned the meeting over to Aron Lewis the union representative. Lewis requested staff meeting dates.

Spaletta said they would be doing a t-shirt fundraiser for graduation.

Spaletta let the board know that some of the teacher's assistants had decided to take part in the new fellows program offered by the state. Davis said they had posted for the program and had been allowed 10 positions originally but could add more. She said they would have 18 positions.

They are starting the home visits to the students and family.

Spaletta said POMS and Associates had done the safety audit last year and have been asked to do it again this year. It will take place in September and will be a help with the fire marshal's office.

Spaletta gave the board an update on the Summerfest. He said they had 47 booths, and vendors. They had 60 plus volunteers.

Spaletta let the board know that on Thursday at 8 am the governor and lieutenant governor would be at the Gateway in Hurley to announce the building of a four-lane road from Bayard to Deming.

Davis said the safety committee met and went over what projects they needed to do. On their list will be Snell security doors, training, keys for gates, fire drills, and new staff orientation.

Spaletta said some of the fire alarms had not been working properly but would be in complete working order by September.

Joyce Barela gave an update on the covid procedures that had been received July 20. She said they had 7,000 home test kits so would be keeping that available through the fall semester.

Spaletta said the old board meeting room and other rooms next to it would be ready for them to use again soon. All that remained to do would be carpet and repair of the HVAC system.

Spaletta said he had gotten some large bins for trash and junk that would be taken around to the different schools. He also said he would be looking into work study students at the university to help with general filing and organizing in the office.

Public input

Spaletta said he had talked to the state board about training and wanted to see if there would be any interest. Guadiana told him to get a list of what they had available.

A discussion about items for the next meeting took place.

Meeting adjourned.

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