By Lynn Janes

The Cobre Consolidated Schools held a board meeting October 24, 2022. President Gilbert Guadiana called the meeting to order. Other board members in attendance included David Terrazas, Elizabeth Dean and Gabriella Begay. Serina Murillo did not attend. The Pledge of Allegiance and salute to the New Mexico flag took place. Superintendent Jeff Spaletta also attended. This meeting took place at Cobre High School.

Reading of the board norms took place with each board member reading a norm. The norms consist of five rules the board strives to adhere to during the meeting. They are listed as actively listen to all perspectives, respond to concerns and questions as a unified board, professionalism expected, assume positive intent, and be positive and responsive.

The host school, Cobre High School, gave the board a presentation of a few of the programs for the students. Milo Young had some videos of the students doing welding. One of the videos showed them building a livestock breeder cage. Young said they have been giving them the skills to later become certified. Several board members expressed concern that they have the protective gear needed. Young gave them a list of all they had. The board agreed they need more.

The next video had been done by the students using drones to video the training for the Great Race. The video covered the track, school grounds and hills. The program included the sophomores and seniors.

Public comments

Ralph Jimenez, president of the Copper Little League, addressed the board with a proposal that he had. He had talked to Mayor Chon Fierro, and he had agreed with the proposal. Jimenez said he had volunteers that work hard for a good four months to get the bottom softball field ready to use and then after June no one takes care of it, so it seems to be in disrepair much of the time. Fierro had agreed to do a lease so the city could care for the area year-round. Jimenez asked the board to keep it in mind and consider the approval.

The board approved the agenda with some changes. Several items will be moved up to follow the agenda approval. Facilities master plan, bilingual curriculum, Title 9, strategic plan and attendance update.

Paul and Chris Agular with Consolidated Support School Services had a presentation for the board concerning the facilities master plan. They explained it had been a long and in-depth process getting to know the needs of the district. This plan runs five years and fulfills the requirement of the state. They added that some modification may need to be made due to economic reasons in those years and it can be considered a living document. It will be a reminder of what the community has agreed to accomplish in a specific period but can be updated as conditions change. Surveys of the staff and community had been used to form this plan. A document had been given to the board with a list of goals and district priorities. The number one priority identified in the plan had been security upgrades such as fencing and cameras. Some other items listed, site drainage, playgrounds upgrades, multipurpose gyms and auxiliary gyms for the high school and middle school.

They went over the current and projected population of the area. Projections indicate Bayard population will remain stable, currently approximately 2,500 but Grant County as a whole will be declining. They cited a number of other projections and reasons for them. The plan went over bonds and availability and their correlation in copper and copper prices.

They explained that the district needed to apply for emergency funds to fix the roofs at San Lorenzo and Snell Middle School. They talked about the repair and addition to the high school and how that could be accomplished.

Spaletta had questions about the high school repairs and additions. The district would be responsible for 83 percent of the cost but could ask for a waiver.

Guadiana had more questions concerning the copper valuation and bonds. Both people giving the presentation answered all of them. He also asked them if there would be a problem with leasing the softball field and they said no, and it made good sense.

Begay asked that next board meeting they put the leasing of the softball field on the agenda.

Susan Chavira, director of curriculum and instruction gave the board an update on the bilingual curriculum. She started by introducing three people working with her on the program, Sonia Marrufo – Central Elementary, Damaris Landers – Snell grade 6, and Melissa Gonzales – Snell grades 7 and 8. They had prepared a power point presentation. Marufo pointed out that much of the curriculum available does not work because most of the students are not bilingual. Landers said they have been looking at this as a team so all the curriculums would be aligned. The one chosen for their use will be "Listos." The curriculum covers 21 Spanish speaking cultures and incorporates grammar components. In middle school it becomes Encuentros and high school it progresses to Así Se Dice. Gonzalez said they will be focusing on expanding the Spanish language for the students through speaking, writing, listening, and reading. The curriculum will prepare them for the state exams.

Dean said, "If this is not a true bilingual curriculum how do you accommodate those who are?" She expressed concern over the students that only spoke Spanish. They explained that has hardly happened here. Central Elementary only had three students that fall under bilingual category. Terrazas asked what they could do to encourage students to be bilingual. They gave him a list of the things being done. Guadiana said Las Cruces has a lot more bilingual students. Some discussion went on about what could be done to create more interest.

Spaletta gave the board a run down on what all the district has done to comply with the Title 9 requirements. He listed the team and their jobs. He said they have also reached out to Dolores Polanco, the Las Cruces coordinator.

Julie Garcia with POMS Insurance joined the meeting online and gave the board a presentation. She had a power point presentation but said she would not present it because she knew the meeting had been going on for some time and didn't want to take up too much time. She said Title 9 can be explained in one sentence. No person in the United States shall be excluded or discriminated against based on sex from any activity that receives federal funding or assistance. All the schools receive federal funding. Title 9 started with the colleges and has now expanded. In August of 2022, they expanded it more to cover a broader area. It has been all revised and includes significant new rules. Garcia said shortly it would be expanding even more. Training will have to be expanded to all staff in 2022. It has expanded the sexual part with more terms and orientations. Effective in 2023 federal funding can be taken away if this has not been followed. She went on to caution about the conflict of interest. Begay asked her if other schools contracted out the investigations and she said yes. Guadiana said they would have multiple layers of investigation and commented on where to draw the line for outside investigations. Garcia pointed out that even if the police have been brought in on something because of criminal activity the school still must do an investigation. She said they have no clear lines, so everything must be looked at. She gave the board some examples. Dean said this needed to be on the agenda for next time to look at any investigations or complaints happening at this time. Garcia said they needed to make this part of their policies and it should be very clear concerning the conflict of interest. A discussion of the issue and policy went on for some time. Guadiana said it needed to be a standing issue on the agenda and ratcheted up. Begay agreed it needed to be a high priority. Spaletta said the staff would be trained next, but they needed to understand this couldn't happen overnight. Guadiana and Dean said they wanted to be given a timeline of the process. Garcia said all of this is in process but should be done after the first of the year and they would have more direction. Guadiana said this had to be a big priority and implemented right away. He reiterated that the next meeting they needed timelines, dates, and expectations.

Spaletta introduced Michael Prouty of Huron Studer Education. He joined the meeting online. Studer Education had been recommended by Silver Consolidated Schools and Hobbs Consolidated Schools to do their strategic plan. Prouty said they work with over 130 districts across the country. Although based out of Chicago this company is located in Pensacola, Florida. He gave a detailed presentation on what they do, and the nine principles used. The strategic points used included student experience and success, people and culture, family and community collaboration and resources and services. He went over how they put the plan together and work in tandem with the district to accomplish goals. The process takes approximately five months and can be tailored to fit the districts needs. Spaletta asked how soon they would be able to start, and he said as soon as they needed. Instead of allowing the board to ask questions Guadiana told them to submit in writing any questions they had.

The board approved tabling the attendance update until the next meeting.

The board approved the minutes from the October 10, 2022, with one change from Guadiana. In the minutes it did not show Begay being absent but didn't show her in roll call.

The board approved the bills. Begay and Terrazas had attended the finance committee meeting. They had a question, but it had been answered. A large bill for Chromebooks was there and Begay questioned why so large. They had been told not only had they purchased more Chromebooks but had to replace a number that no longer worked.

The board approved the superintendent's evaluation document. Spaletta said he had made the changes requested. Guadiana had concerns about some of the wording but approved as is along with the rest of the board.

The next action item had to do with the RFP (request for proposal) for the special audit. Guadiana said it had not been specific enough and explained what he thought should be on there. Spaletta said he had gotten direction from the attorney that the item he wanted on there could not be included. Guadiana argued it had to be on there. Frank Ryan, finance director reiterated, the attorney said that should not be included. The board approved the RFP.

The board approved the increase in budget. Ryan provided the board with documents and answered the questions they had by further explanation of line items.

The board approved the auction list. This had been approved before and Spaletta said it had been set to happen but found out that it had not been provided to the state auditor as required for approval. It had also been discovered that some of the information on the list had not been correct. Former employees provided this information. Ryan said due to both problems a whole new list had been done and the board needed to approve it and then he would be sending it to the state auditor for approval. At the time they receive approval from the state a date for the auction would be set. A list will be provided to the public and an auctioneer will take care of the auction at no fee to the district.

Micaela Roacho, the student representative, gave a report to the board. She said she wanted to give attention to the scholarship opportunities at Cobre. "We have gotten all of those." Since freshman year they had received information concerning scholarships and college. She had been one of the students selected to go to the elementary schools and talk to the students about education and the importance of being drug free. "It was a great experience."

Superintendents report.

The board received an update from Aaron Lewis, union president. He said, "I have received information that an employee handbook was out there but none of the teachers have gotten one." He expressed that they needed a copy of that handbook. Spaletta said he didn't know anything about it. Lewis said they had one more meeting concerning collective bargaining. Because of the holidays a final presentation would be made to them at the January meeting of the board.

Because of the time, the board approved tabling a number of items until the next meeting. They included:

Unfinished Business, elementary gym project, central water project and policies revisions

Operation directors report, bus inspections, AC and heaters, fire code inspections, roof repairs, and facilities master plan committee.

Finance committee report

Human resource directors report, PowerSchool update, job fair, and data reporting
Special education report, screenings, student teacher ratios, equity council, gifted education, and SPED staff meeting (district wide).

Superintendents report, entry plan, school fundraisers, recruitment committee, food services, bus maintenance contract, and food drive.

Last item to be tabled was new business, Snell entrance safety.

The board went into executive session for discussion of personnel matters.

The board came back into open session and said no decisions had taken place in the closed session.


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