By Lynn Janes
The Cobre Consolidated Schools held a board meeting January 9, 2023. President Gilbert Guadiana called the meeting to order. Other board members in attendance included Serina Murillo, Gabriella Begay, Elizabeth Dean and David Terrazas. The Pledge of Allegiance and salute to the New Mexico flag took place. Dane Kennon attended as interim superintendent.
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.
Public input on agenda items none currently.
The council approved the agenda with one change. Horacio Jaramillo had been listed under non action items and will be moved to public input.
Annual school board reorganization had been done in the past due to elections falling at a different time. The board will still recognize the annual reorganization. Begay nominated Murillo as board president and all approved. Dean nominated Begay as vice president and all approved. Guadiana nominated Terrazas as secretary and all approved. Murillo took over the meeting as president at this time.
The board approved the membership to the New Mexico School Board Association. Begay said they needed to take advantage of board education offered by the association. Guadiana supported that idea. The board had not been sure of the cost for this membership and Guadiana said he would check. They did know it would be approximately $1,000. Not being a member does not stop the board from participating in the education they have available, but it does give them a considerably lower cost as a member.
The board approved the legislative requests that Kennon listed. Cobre had done a presentation to the Prospectors and requested $800,000 for security to cover the whole district. Victor Arambula, director of technology, said they had requested this last year and had not gotten the funding.
Guadiana said he had strongly advocated for radios. Arambula said they had ordered them. Arambula said they had not been 911 compliant but had recently taken care of that and will be putting a PA system in. Murillo said the teachers would not use the radios but have an app they use that doesn't cost anything to alert of any problems called grave. She said she wanted to see teachers be able to have input on these choices. Guadiana pointed out the usefulness of the radios. Begay said they use radios at her school and find them very beneficial. She mentioned the app that Murillo talked about and said that Silver uses it and says it has been useful. Terrazas pointed out the staff said they didn't have enough radios.
Guadiana brought up the discussion of trying for capital outlay monies to rebuild the high school. The cost would be $25-$30 million. In the past they would have had to come up with 80 percent of that and now it would be 53 percent. Kennon commented they could not come up with the funds needed.
The board approved the Freeport McMoRan award for $55,000. The money will be used to provide a welding program for Snell Middle School. The grant will provide welders, welding equipment and safety equipment. The original grant had been for $50,000 and the extra $5,000 had been added to purchase steel for projects. It will be to compete in the Skills USA competition. The board had a few questions. The grant could not be used for travel and Mr. Young would be overseeing both classes at the high school and middle school. Currently they don't have a building for the class but will be using the high school space for the classes. Next year they will seek a grant to build a building at the middle school to house the class.
Non action items.
The 80-day report had been submitted to PED (Public Education Department).
Arambula said they had a quick link on the Cobre website for the NM DASH (Data, Accountability, Sustainability and High Achievement)
Kennon had Frank Ryan, finance director, address the first quarterly budget review. Ryan said they have been working on it but have not finished. Murillo asked when the quarter ended. Ryan said September 30, 2022. Guadiana pointed out that they needed to have that much sooner to be able to take any corrective action that might be needed. He added that he would help Ryan to move that along faster if he could.
Melissa Maynes gave the board an update on the equity council. She said they had not been able to meet before the Christmas break but would be meeting in the next week. She also added that she has been meeting with her advisor monthly and a statewide meeting monthly. They have ten committed members for the council but need some parents to participate. The board suggested maybe combining with Silver Consolidated Schools and Aldo Leopold. Maynes said that had been talked about.
They have had some questions regarding staff contract discrepancies relating to employee wages. Kennon said they have been working on a spreadsheet and would present at the next finance meeting.
Kennon said the Central Elementary Gym rates have changed. They had not put out a bid request but had asked for quotes from three companies. Guadiana questioned the $60,000 already paid out and had that been for services not rendered. Kennon said that had been for architect services and it had been done.
Kennon said last time he had told the board that they had 90-95 percent of the compliance met for the fire marshals report. He said it still fell at about that and the reason has to do with the backorder of parts to complete the jobs. He said he felt certain they would have all the parts needed by the end of the month. Kennon added he has kept in contact with the fire marshal through the process.
Begay gave a report on the finance committee. She said they had not had one recently because of the break but would be meeting the following week. They will be talking about safety and security concerns and some other items. Aaron Lewis, president of the teacher's union, said he had not been invited to a meeting since August 2022 and would like to be included. Begay said they would get him on the list.
Guadiana said the audit committee had not met recently but would meet the following week. They will be looking at the audit to be done after the special audit has completed. Other items they will look at will be fundraisers and how the money has been distributed and to whom.
The special audit entrance meeting has been scheduled for January 18. 2023 at 4:30 pm and it will be hosted on Zoom.
Kennon said he had addressed everything in the previous parts of the meeting. He did add that WNMU would be having a Roberts Rules of Order training on January 20, 2023, from 1-3pm and could be done online.
Horacio Jaramillo addressed the board. "I am a parent and have one student at Cobre. I placed a request to speak concerning the 120-day assessment given by Dr. Jeff Spaletta when the board met at San Lorenzo school. I submitted the documents but guess you didn't get them." He added that he appreciated the time to speak. "You as the board want transparency, as I see it transparency is that everyone sees clearly." Transparency has been brought up for several years. "We need to own these items but put them behind us, so they don't drag us down." He recommended they talk about these items until they have been settled. "I want to add some items, I have been evaluating for eleven years." He added it could not be because he had asked to be included on a tour of the school and had not been contacted. He told the board they needed to hear some things. "Contractor selected to find a superintendent failed us. The teachers have been bombarded with new expectations. The last thing we need is an environment of intimidation, criticism, and character judgement by any level of administration." He listed all the staff has done and the time spent with no thanks. "The teachers need more credit." He pointed out that the YouTube account for the school only represents one individual and should have everyone's accomplishments on there. He went on to talk about contracts and how the teachers had contacted him on what to do. He told them to step forward and submit a letter of concern. He told them to summarize the current work environment as hostile and specify inappropriate management methods of operation. He told them to include the harassment, intimidation, and criticism. He asked for these employees to be covered by the Federal Whistleblowers Act of 1989 and No Fear Act of 2002. "You as the board have the final resolution to the 120-day assessment, my assessment, and the employees. I am not here to be a troublemaker."
The board went into executive session to discuss personnel matters and the investigation of Spaletta.
The board came back to open session and said no decisions had been made.