By Mary Alice Murphy
The Cobre School Board came out of closed session early and recognized Maia Mesa for perfect attendance at Snell Middle School. In addition to receiving a certificate, she, as an artist, received a package of drawing materials, according to Tony Sosa, truancy officer, who made the presentation and told the Beat what his report had consisted of.
He said parents need to let the school know if they will be taking their students out of class, even for the K-3 Plus summer program.
He said truancy issues needed to be addressed to help those in the K-3 Plus program. "We donated popsicles to the students at the end of each week."
Sosa told the Beat, after the meeting that he and David Holguin, who provides Silver Schools truancy services, were chosen to help create a truancy manual. "We are two of four from the Southwest Region."
He plans to start a pilot program of Truancy Court at Snell Middle School. "If a student has five absences, they are sent to Municipal Judge Ruiz, who develops a plan to help the students with their attendance. If it's successful, we will also put it in the high school."
Joyce Barela, Hurley Elementary School principal, said: "There is a lack of communication on truancy."
School Board President Ralph "Toy" Sepulveda said because the school is not year-round, the communication might be lacking in the summer.
"When I meet with parents, I let them know there will be no sanctions against their children during the K-3 Plus program," Sosa said.
Barela said each student must attend at least 12 days of the program for the school to be paid.
Board member Frank Cordova noted that some schools in the northern part of the state do not offer the K-3 Plus program.
Board member Gilbert Guadiana asked if schools could do anything to make intervention supportive and not punitive.
Sosa said he believes that because he calls from the Juvenile Probation and Parole Office, the parents think he is always going to punish, but many times, he is just trying to find out if the parents know their child is not in school.
Barela said a grant for $11,000 had recently been received from the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico to the Lions Crane Reading Foundation to support Bayard Elementary School. "It was secured for our district from George Mulholland, president of the Lions Crane Reading Foundation, who wrote the grant."
The purpose of the funding is to purchase licenses for Bayard Elementary students to use a reading program, called Virtual Reading Coach. It uses video clips of virtual coaches that guide the student through the lesson and activities in order to improve their reading.
A grant last year that Mulholland received from Freeport-McMoRan Community Foundation purchased iPads and covers, as well as other hardware to run the program.
Barela reported the grant would purchase eight licenses, which could be used by eight students at a time, but would be available to groups of eight throughout the day, reaching many more students.
"We are also working with Mulholland, so we can bring the program to Hurley, and then Central and San Lorenzo elementary schools," Barela said.
Board member Gabriel Holguin asked how effective the course is.
"If it is used consistently, we see a great difference," Barela replied. "It's phonics-based."
Superintendent Robert Mendoza said receiving $22,000 over two years was "awesome."
An agenda item, which members approved, addressed an amendment to the Open Meetings Act resolution, which required a change of language from Cobre Schools to Cobre Consolidated Schools. Everything else remained the same.
A scholarship was awarded from the New Mexico School Board Association for $1,000 to Allison Sedillos. The region comprises Cobre, Deming, Silver, Animas and Lordsburg schools districts and next year, will include Quemado.
"Each school gets an applicant," Cordova explained. "For this region, we get only applications, no interviews." He showed a plaque of recipients for the past six years. "The first year, it was Cobre, so the next year we were not eligible. But we have received it three times, so we get the plaque to hang on the wall." To qualify to present applications, the district has to have perfect attendance at regional meetings.
The $1,000 can be spent for tuition, fees, books or whatever the student needs, he said.
In the superintendent's report, Mendoza said the Snell cheerleaders have requested permission for a fundraiser.
He also presented the next year's board-meeting schedule, which was approved.
"Today started our official four-day weeks," Mendoza said.
Sepulveda asked for the school times for the students.
The high school and middle school will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the elementary schools from 8 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., with teachers and staff remaining until at least 3 p.m.
Board members asked for items to be placed on the next agenda. They include the superintendent's contract to meet the four-day schedule. A second agenda item will approve all director job descriptions.
Guadiana asked for the audit report and what corrections had been completed. Mendoza said a presentation would be made.
Sepulveda asked that a board retreat time be set up for a 1 ½ day retreat, starting on a Friday afternoon and continuing most of the day on Saturday. "I would like to see it happen between now and when school starts."
The next meeting will take place July 24 at the Cobre Consolidated Schools administration office, beginning with a closed session at 6 p.m. and open session at 7 p.m.