Talon News - Good Local News

Aztec School Board Meeting


November 23, 2018

Aztec School Board Meeting

by David Edward Albright, TALON

The November 14, 2018 Aztec Municipal School Board Meeting began with a Recognition by Sergeant Matt Anthony with New Mexico Game and Fish. Anthony said of Lydia Rippey Elementary kindergarten teacher, Ione Randleman, "She's been responsible for the education of hundreds of kindergartens by taking them to Aztec Pond for fishing clinics and other nature learning experiences" conducted by his department. The program has grown to include an additional Aztec school and all kindergarten students for foundational training in conservation. She was awarded the New Mexico Angling Skills Teacher of the Year Award for 2018. "About 320 students have participated", Randleman said.

McCoy Elementary student ambassadors were introduced to the Board wearing their 'ambassador vests'. The students, from various grades, shook hands with Deputy Superintendent, Tania Prokop and were handed a pencil to simulate receiving their diplomas upon graduation. A group photo for parents and administrators and the press followed. Superintendent Kirk Carpenter asked parents if it was okay to send a photo to the Sandy Hook Promise people. Their program is "taking off in the state and is a tremendous program---Albuquerque Public Schools...have now started it". "Safety starts with our students...Aztec's really leading the way with those types of endeavors", he stated.

The next item, 'McCoy Elementary Kindergarten Fund Raiser' request was approved, as was their 'Travel Request'. Carpenter reported on the School Safety Task Force meeting that took place the previous day---and Aztec schools focus on "prevention and reaction"...and their "overarching goal of making schools safer". He noted that the four components of the Sandy Hook Promise program: 'Say Something', 'Anonymous Tip App', 'Signs of Suicide' and the 'Threat Assessment' are projected to be implemented by the end of the year. Regarding needed legislative changes such as those initiated by the State of Pennsylvania, calls making shooting threats should be felony, not a misdemeanor. "I think a lot of the safety bills will gain momentum", he said. Also the issue of retired law enforcement returning to work as safety officers in the schools without it affecting their COLA (retirement) is back on the table. "I used the example of law enforcement officers driving through Aztec everyday going to Colorado and work...that shouldn't be happening," he said. "Why can't we be a leader...and go into session and be bold for kids?". He expressed optimism that school safety legislation would be addressed and passed, otherwise "it would be a travesty". "Again, it's about the 300,000 kids in our state that we need to look out for."

The 'Personnel Report' in front of the board was presented by Ms. Prokop, without any questions. The same for the 'Principals/Teachers Pursuing Excellence' report. Bob Schryver, Food Services Director, reported this being Thanksgiving Week at the schools they had "225 adults visit Park Elementary for lunch...and 188 at Koogler today". Park Avenue has switched and is now doing round pizza and "you would swear you were eating at a pizzeria, not at a elementary school---they're putting out a great product", he said. They are still moving along with their 'Fresh Local Produce Grant', but he said they didn't get the expected response from local growers other than Kirby for apples. "Our numbers are looking good, holding steady," he said.

Transportation Director John Laws said, "our forty-day count, compared to last year they're pretty flat, transporting students a little bit more efficiently with one less bus...our mileage is down...hopefully those numbers stay the same at our eighty-day count---those are the numbers that matter...they are used for funding for next year." The 'riding referral-free program' "is going really well---it's cut our referral in half, yeah, bus drivers are coming into school handing our rewards", he said. Cameras on the buses have been a factor in improved behavior and less referrals. "Bus inspections went well again, just minor things". Even with the loss of two staff they have filled in and handled everything.

Grant Banash, Maintenance Director, reported that they "received top honors in class 4-A" and again got the Ben Lujan Award after three schools were evaluated by the Public Schools Facilities Authority. "To have three schools in the outstanding category is pretty unheard of across the state. This is a great group or team effort---looking at our maintenance staff, our custodial and our grounds staff," he said. He reviewed 'Summer Highlights' and their tracking log to record all projects throughout the year. The solar project and it's positive effect on the overall electricity costs were addressed by Banash. About $30,000 annual savings were documented and the payback or return on investment period is still to be determined. He also discussed planned security projects at Aztec High School, based on funding of $212,000 received from the PSCOC. The San Juan County Reunification Process (for schools) and their goal for completion by January 2019 was detailed by Banash, who has taken a lead role in organizing a county-wide action plan.

The final report from Technology Director, Shawn Shay, covered the new 'Tiger Standard for Technology', which is a goal of one-to-one integration with computers in the classroom. Next year Aztec fourth-graders will be engaged in the program. Their focus will be on training for students, teachers and staff. "My understanding is that we're looking at more collaborative learning spaces for the 21st century classroom. "We have 6500 devices if you count user-accounts---and there are six of us," Shay said.

Carpenter gave the 'District Safety Report', stating that "they had been approached by San Juan County Dispatch about a new 'App' called the 'Red Panic Button'. They are waiting on one more district to commit in order to make it cost-effective. The 'App', a red button, will automatically go to 911 and give location and also send alerts to administration as to location of the emergency so that school safety officers can quickly respond. The first year costs will be covered, so Carpenter said, "to me it's a no brain-er...to me it's just another opportunity to improve safety".

The meeting finished with the approval of the 'Resolution and Proclamation of Regular School District Election and Election Procedures'. Carpenter said it will be a 2 mil levy ($2 per $1000) of property value. Discussion included the results of voter approval or not---of the mil levy. "People just have to go vote...we will absolutely do everything to get ahead of it...we will educate," Carpenter said. Both election proclamations were approved. Approval of the 'Consent Agenda' and 'Future Business' ended the meeting after more than two hours. The next meeting will be December 13, 2018 at 6:00 pm.


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