By Lynn Janes
The Silver City Consolidated Schools held a work session on August 21, 2023. President Ashley Montenegro called the meeting to order. Other board members in attendance Michelle Diaz, Patrick Cohn, Mike McMillan, and Eddie Flores. Superintendent William Hawkins also attended. The Pledge of Allegiance and salute to the New Mexico flag took place.
The board approved the agenda.
The purpose of this work session had to do with the history adoption and scope sequence and assessment. Cindy Barris, associate superintendent, gave the board an update on the current status. Barris had gotten a committee together to go over all the curricula chosen for each grade k-12. Some of the materials had not come in yet but they knew what had been chosen. The history curriculum for fourth grade did not include any New Mexico history. They reached out locally to the museum for a way to supplement that area. Barris said the museum has some great resources and said they would be happy to help.
Barris went over the scope sequence and assessment. They have been assessing English language arts and math. The state has hired someone that has set these assessments to mirror the curriculum so they can get a good evaluation of what had been taught and what the students learned.
Hawkins said the state had brought in Matt Goodlaw and he previously had been the architect of the teacher evaluation system. Barris has been working with him since April 2023 to help design the assessment process. He and Barris will present a paper on what they have found and what they can do to support the students, how they school can do better.
Cohn thanked Barris for all her hard work on this. He asked her about the curriculum they would be using until the new ones came in. Barris said they would be using the old until the new arrived. The teachers felt the materials would be well worth waiting for and they knew from the beginning that the materials would be late on some of them.
Diaz thanked Barris for all her hard work on the assessment. She liked how they would be framing it differently. In the past it created a pressure for the students. Framing it to the students helps the school know what they need to do to do better for the students. Baris said, “Yes we wanted to change the mindset.”
Hawkins commented that previously they had gotten results but didn’t know if the students had learned what they had been taught in the classroom. “Tests are how we help our kids and know if they have gained the skills needed.”
Montenegro said they had been asking for this for a long time. “What I am hearing is it will take baby steps to get there.” Barris said they needed to have teachers involved in the process that have been doing the teaching in those areas. She brought up how cursive writing is taught by some and not by others. Montenegro asked if teachers had volunteered their time and Barris said they had.
Work session adjourned
The Silver City Consolidated Schools held the regular board meeting August 21, 2023. President Ashley Montenegro called the meeting to order. Other board members in attendance Michelle Diaz, Patrick Cohn, Mike McMillan, and Eddie Flores. Superintendent William Hawkins also attended. The Pledge of Allegiance and salute to the New Mexico flag took place.
The board approved the minutes from the work session and regular board meeting July 24, 2023, and finance meeting July 20, 2023.
The board approved the agenda for the meeting.
Information and presentations
Louis Alvarez, associate superintendent, gave recognition and a plaque to both Calvary Chapel Church Pastor Joseph Gros and Cross Point Church Pastor Tim Heyer, and Dave Trombly. Calvary had provided breakfast for the new staff orientation and Cross Point had provided lunch and snack bags. They had 60 people in attendance. Alvarez said they have also been able to build relationships with the students and this has been part of the strategic plan to reach out to the community for membership and relationships with the schools.
Victor Oaxaca, maintenance and transportation director, had not been able to attend but Alvarez gave his report on the asbestos management plan for 2023/2024. Asbestos naturally occurs and years ago they started using it on everything but now know it has some health issues it can cause. Anything built before 1989 will probably have it. The state requires inspections every year and they recently had one. Many things had been taken care of in the past but as long as something with asbestos is not disturbed, they don’t have to do anything.
Hawkins gave the update on the special education department manual. He read the full statement of assurance to the board. Annually this manual and statement must be brought up to date by the state to put the districts in full compliance with any new legislation. Shane Coker, special education director, came in and asked if the board had any questions. The manual that he read from consisted of 490 pages. Coker said he would be doing the Southwestern regional education contracts next.
Diane Carrico with SCEA (Silver City Education Association) gave the board a short report. She had attended the new employee orientation and had gotten some of those attending to join. They have been working on the bargaining and she would have something soon to present to the board. She thanked the board for all they do.
Hawkins had a power point presentation for the board.
The New Mexico Athletic Association (NMAA) had updated their sportsmanship laws. It centered on crowd control and unsportsmanship like conduct. The law promotes positive behavior, guidelines for spectators and consequences for ejections. He went over all the responsibilities of the school. Spectators must show good sportsmanship before, during and after games. NMAA will penalize schools that have any reported egregious acts. These could cause a school to be suspended. Hawkins said he had not seen an issue here, but they had some problems with some spectators being passionate. He added that when they had been spoken to, they had dialed it back. “A video has been put on Facebook that explains everything very well.” Hawkins said they do an announcement at every game to remind people.
The start of school had caused some problems with the construction by the high school on 32nd Street. Hawkins said, in spite of it, everyone had done well. The first day had been rough but they came up with a new plan for the school busses and traffic to mitigate it and it has worked better. All the schools have been having open houses. Hawkins said this year they will be focused on attendance and improving it.
Alvarez gave the board a personnel report and said, “We are at 98 percent.” They did have a viable candidate for one of the positions open.
Barris gave the board a report on the summer professional development classes attended by the teachers. They had one in Anaheim, California and one in San Antonio, Texas. Anaheim had been for PLC (professional learning community) and San Antonio focused on Power School, the software used for the schools for many things.
Barris had an Excel document for the board that showed the enrollment for each school and each grade. She went over all the numbers with them.
Michelle McCain, finance director, didn’t have anything to report currently.
Board of Education
Montenegro said the finance subcommittee had met and didn’t have a lot of financial activity to review because of the summer. They will have to nominate an audit committee later in the meeting. She wanted to point out that the July deposits came to $2.6 million and of that $2.2 million had been reimbursements. “This is why we need to have high cash reserves to cover those bills until the district is paid.” She announced that they had received $225,000 from the Town of Silver City to help repair the track. The whole community benefits from that field.
The audit subcommittee will be on the agenda every month going forward to give audit updates and reports. Montenegro said they may not have one every month, but it will be on the agenda.
Flores said the threat assessment committee had not met and he didn’t have a report.
Montenegro and the board discussed the renaming of the band hall or band room in reference to the past meeting when they had a presentation on naming it after David Kendrick a former band teacher that had passed away. They do have to publicize the intent to rename it for sixty days to give the public that opportunity to object.
The board discussed the nominations for the audit committee. They must have one parent with a child in the Silver Consolidated School district and one with financial and accounting background. They took the list from the previous committee and contacted them to see if they would still be willing to serve. The position doesn’t have any term limits. Currently Montenegro and Cohn serve on that committee, but Montenegro said it does not have to be them.
The board went over the consideration of adoption of the NMSBA (New Mexico School Board Association) policy service advisories 233-237, August 2023. Full policies can be read at https://n4f4bb.a2cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/08/NMSBA-Policy-Service-Advisories-233-237-August-2023.pdf
This is done every year to conform to the new laws passed in legislature. This will serve as the first reading for policy advisory No. 233 (new) ACB – non-discrimination related to reproductive or gender affirming health care, policy advisory No. 234 (new) ACBB human rights act protection for gender or gender identity, policy advisory No. 235 (new) B school board elections and holidays, policy advisory No. 236 EF- food service regulation and policy No. 237 JFB open enrollment.
Montenegro encouraged people to follow the districts Facebook page because it always had a lot of information. She enjoyed the fun people had at the recent SEI gathering. Their website says, “SEI is an environmental nonprofit consultancy that builds leaders to drive and accelerate sustainability solutions.” Montenegro thanked all the parents, volunteers, and churches that had helped.
Montenegro thanked everyone that always does that little extra. The budget will only go so far, and the district has a lot of facilities to maintain. “Everything you do is very appreciated.”
Diaz thanked the administration crew for attending. She commented on how much everyone had liked the early open houses before school started. She wished everyone luck on the fall activities. She had received a few emails after the passing of the armed guard policy. “This is just a step for safety and just one component. We are trying to take a proactive approach.” They will be working on the wellness part from head to toe. “Wellness is ongoing, and we will continue to reevaluate.”
Cohn echoed the past comments. He wanted to thank everyone involved in the innovation grant the district had received. It will be helpful to help students with the pathways they have interest in whether it be college or something else. It will provide a lot of opportunities. He wished everyone a happy school year.
McMillan welcomed everyone back. He commented on being happy for all the people getting involved with the schools and the relationships being built.
Flores thanked Alvarez for all he had been doing with the security guards and what he has been doing to make it happen.
Public comments none currently.
The board approved all requests made by McCain. She had checks totaling $837,789.75. The approval also included a donation from Silver City Lodge #1718 for Silver High School girls basketball in the amount of $1,500.
Victor Oaxaca, transportation director did not have a report for the board.
The board approved the asbestos management plan 2023-2024 school year.
The board approved the updated special education department manual.
The board approved the intent to rename the Silver High School band hall.
The board nominated and approved the audit committee. From the board it will remain Montenegro and Cohn. For the parent it will be again Lorraine Escobar a parent and for the financial accounting person it will again be Vivian Flores.
Public comments none currently.
August 29, 2023 will be the deadline to file for candidacy in the upcoming election for November.
The next regular board meeting and work session will take place September 18, 2023.
Finance committee will meet September 14, 2023.
The board went into executive session to obtain advice from the district’s attorney in relation to a parent’s complaint involving student information. This discussion will also be protected under the attorney client privilege in anticipation of and to prevent further litigation.
The board came back into open session after about twenty minutes and said no decisions had been made.