Photo: Swearing in of Eddie Flores to fill Silver School Board vacancy by Magistrate Judge Maurine Laney.
Photo below: Full board, after Eddie Flores joins it. From left are President Mike McMillan, Vice President and Secretary Ashley Montenegro, Patrick Cohn, Dr. MIchelle Diaz and Flores.
Photos and article by Hallie Richwine
The Silver Consolidated Schools Regular Board Meeting took place Tuesday, December 19, 2017, in the Silver Schools Administration Building. All members of the Board of Education as well as Superintendent Audie Brown attended.
Katrina Bustillos of the Silver Schools Education Association wished the board happy holidays and expressed her wishes to meet with Brown after the break on the planned professional development for educators. Bustillos wants to set up future goals to help the district continue to improve.
After the SCEA, the board heard from the two candidates for the District 3 seat, Michael “Mischa” Larisch and Eddie Flores.
Larisch presented first and shared with the board that he comes from a family of educators. His wife is currently a teacher in the Silver Consolidated School District. Larisch has board experience and is familiar with budgeting and project management.
Flores followed Larisch. Flores has over thirty years of law enforcement experience, which includes experience collaborating with other agencies. Flores also worked on the Silver Consolidated School Board in the past and wants to work on an effective board once again.
“We have two very qualified candidates, and we’ll get to the appointment process later on the agenda,” said board president Mike McMillan.
During the Superintendent’s report, Brown congratulated the Special Education Department for its hard work. They recently received a 100% on all indicators reported to the state, which shows their exceptional work from identifying children with special needs to their post graduate follow up.
Brown also addressed the issue of school safety. “After the tragic incident that occurred in Aztec, I know the superintendent there very well. It is heartbreaking to fathom what the community is experiencing.” Brown continued to say he has met with local law enforcement to review current procedures and identify ways to improve safety, including using cameras and updating locks.
Cliff School Principal Dean Spurgeon presented to the board that they did their first “Child Find” in the Cliff area and they found a number of children that would benefit from a preschool program. Director of Special Education Cindy Ruff agreed they had an excellent turnout at the event and there are now two companies helping identify children with special needs, Life Quest and Amplified Therapy. This helps identify children early, but once they are identified the district is obligated to provide services. Ruff said it is not feasible to transport young children to Silver City for services, and there are resources for having a Cliff program in place. “What is the student-teacher ratio?” asked board member Dr. Michelle Diaz. Ruff said they cannot project that yet, but they will continue to reach out and find children that need the services. McMillan asked if this would be for the spring semester. Spurgeon said the hope is for spring or shortly thereafter. “Is part of having the child find having family willingness and interest?” asked McMillan. Ruff said there has been a lot of eager family input and numerous calls, indicating families are interested in early interventions also.
Next Brown shared with the board the memo from the Public Education Department informing the district that three schools are in need of improvement. If after four years there is not growth, the PED may consider closure or reconstitution of the school. Brown said the community and staff members realize the overall goal is to reach a grade letter “B” in all of the schools and sees this as an opportunity for rigorous improvement methods at the schools. “This is why we have the level of professional development happening soon, to avoid such a circumstance,” continued Brown. Diaz questioned the validity of the grading system and Brown said the current assessment is controversial; however it is the only tool being used. Brown also confirmed additional funding is available for the schools in question based on the category the PED assigned.
Cindy Milam reported to the board that enrollment numbers at the 80-day mark were very similar to the 40-day mark even though the district is still down from last year.
Michele McCain explained an increment under action items on the agenda. The Bowling Team, which is volunteer and fundraiser-driven and remains at a club status, needs to have employee classified drivers in order to operate the school vehicles. The volunteers attended the driver training on their own but still need classified as employees to transport the students. Brown said it is a club with high student interest, and it is refreshing.
Board Vice President Ashley Montenegro reported for the Finance Sub-Committee. Montenegro met with Martha Alvarez and McCain to discuss financial data and to review internal control within the district. Montenegro said financially the district has stabilized, and there are checks and balances in place to disallow embezzlement.
The Board President report included appointing Patrick Cohn to the Finance Sub-Committee with Montenegro. McMillan also expressed somber feelings after the Aztec shooting.
Montenegro echoed shock after the Aztec incident and said security is important and it reaches all students.
Cohn reported visiting elementary schools to help celebrate the holidays.
Diaz said she is looking forward to the new year and new beginnings.
In Action Items, the board unanimously approved the Silver High School Bowling Increment.
McMillan then asked the board to consider and nominate a candidate to the district 3 seat. He said both candidates would serve the board well. Cohn nominated Eddie Flores to the position with all board members in favor.
McMillan also recommended having Montenegro remain in the secretary role as well as vice president until the board reorganization.
The board agreed unanimously to approving the construction manager at risk and to having Prather Consulting facilitate their upcoming retreat.
Magistrate Judge Maurine Laney was present to swear in Eddie Flores as the district 3 seat on the board.
The next Regular Meeting of the Silver Consolidated School Board will take place January 16, 2018.