All seven LCPS high school commencement ceremonies in May 2018 will take place over the course of two days at the New Mexico State University Pan American Center. The School Board approved the revised schedule at its regular meeting on Aug. 15. The previous high school graduation schedule spanned four separate days and two separate venues.

“There are considerable expenses to hold graduation ceremonies that attract thousands of family members,” LCPS spokesperson Jo Galvan said. “Beyond the use of the facilities, there is security, clean-up, equipment rentals and more. Not only was the change the fiscally responsible thing to do, it will make the ceremonies more accessible for out-of-town families by eliminating mid-week ceremonies.”

The change is expected to save the district an estimated $7,000. The previous graduation schedule cost approximately $85,000 per year and the new schedule is expected to reduce those costs to an estimated $78,500 per year.

All of the ceremonies will take place on Friday or Saturday, May 18-19.  Arrowhead Park Medical Academy will have its first cohort of graduates and Arrowhead Park Early College High School will move their ceremonies from the convention center to the Pan Am.

New calendars with the revised schedule will be printed for LCPS students.

REVISED GRADUATION SCHEDULE:

Friday, May 18, 2018, NMSU Pan American Center

  • 9:00 a.m. – Centennial High School (No CHS Classes on May 18)
  • 1:30 p.m. – Arrowhead Park Early College High School and Arrowhead Park Medical Academy
  • 6:00 p.m. – Oñate High School (classes to dismiss after lunch on May 18)

Saturday, May 19, 2018, NMSU Pan American Center

  • 9:00 a.m. – Mayfield High School
  • 1:30 p.m. – Rio Grande Preparatory Institute
  • 6:00 p.m. – Las Cruces High School

The proposal for the change was developed based on feedback from Principals at all six LCPS high schools. According to Galvan, the previous graduation schedule cost approximately $85,000 per year, and the new schedule is expected to reduce those costs to an estimated $78,500 per year.

Superintendent Ewing to Teach DACC Course and Donate Proceeds

Superintendent Dr. Greg Ewing announced that he will be teaching a course at Doña Ana Community College and will be donating his salary from that teaching position to the LCPS Foundation. The donation will be used for the district’s Student Advisory Council so that the high school students will have funding for expenses such as traveling to the Legislature to speak with lawmakers about the needs for public education.

Assessment Audit

Throughout the school year, Superintendent Dr. Greg Ewing will be discussing with the School Board the need, use and frequency of state-mandated and locally produced assessments. With the assistance of National Education Association Las Cruces (NEA-LC) and the district’s Assessment Office, the Board reviewed the results of principal and teacher surveys on the number and type of assessments, how much time and number of days they take to administer, and how much preparation time is taken.

The cost that LCPS expends for assessments has decreased, from $636,710 in 2011 to $242,481 in 2017, according to the Chief Assessment & Research Officer Albert Vega. He also reported that LCPS has 14,000 devices available for testing (about 1 device for every 2 students).  And, he reported the estimated number of days reserved for testing during a school year, according to principals. Another testing audit update will be given at the Board’s next work session, Sept. 5, 4:00 p.m.

Bond Sale

Among many financial items that went before the Board was the approval of the sale of $15 million in bonds to pay for the final construction projects that were approved in a 2014 school bond election. This is the final amount of bonds from that election. LCPS will go before the voters in February 2018 to ask voters to consider another bond election that would fund new classrooms, renovate older buildings and pay for capital outlay needs throughout the district.  More information on that election will be provided in the coming months.

Back to School

Deputy Superintendent Gabe Jacquez reported the beginning of the school year is going well. The traditional problems are being addressed as quickly as possible, such as a few kindergarten students who got on the wrong bus; leaky roofs due to the heavy rains;  congested traffic in parent pick-up and drop-off areas; and determining whether bus routes need to be adjusted.

Dozens of central office administrators visited every school on August 14 and reported back what they saw to the Superintendent.  Multiple reports were given about clean schools, busy students and well prepared teachers and staff. Jacquez said limited overcrowding was reported for buses and a few that were overloaded will be adjusted.  Kudos were also given to the Physical Plant for taking care of buildings that were flooded during the weekend prior to school starting.

Resolutions to be Developed

Each year, the New Mexico School Boards Association (NMSBA) selects Resolutions submitted from school districts across the state that will be forwarded to the Legislature for consideration. The LCPS Board discussed the topics that it would like to submit for consideration. Under consideration are Resolutions that would improve public school funding and use of the state’s Land Grant and Severance Tax Permanent Fund to shore up state funding; increased teacher salaries; improved funding for transportation; enacting gun reform to protect children; requesting the Legislature to revise the Educator Effectiveness Evaluation; expanding access to early literacy experiences for 3-and 4-year-old students modeled after the K-3 Plus program; and more.

The Board will review the various Resolutions and determine on Sept. 5 at a Board work session which topics to submit to NMSBA for consideration.

LCPS Welcomes New Administrators

There were handshakes all around as many new administrators, and those who have been reassigned to a new location, were introduced to the School Board. These are in addition to the administrators who were introduced last spring.

School-Based Administrators: Raymond Banegas, Assistant Principal Intern, Alameda Elem.; Amanda Castillo, Assistant Principal, B.T. Washington Elem.; Michael Chaires, Principal, Central Elem.; Lisa Dominguez, Assistant Principal, Central Elem.; Sonia Campos, Principal, Conlee Elem.; Sandra Montoya, Assistant Principal, Conlee Elem.; Joan Howard, Principal, Highland Elem.; Karen Hite, Interim Principal, Hillrise Elem.; Vangie Barela, Principal, Jornada Elem.; Nicole Bailey, Assistant Principal, Jornada Elem.; Stephani Hanway, Assistant Principal, MacArthur Elem.; Tara Faivre, Assistant Principal, Tombaugh Elem.; Sadie Ortiz, Assistant Principal, University Hills Elem.; Eloisa Solis, Principal, Valley View Elem.; Louis Meza, Assistant Principal, Valley View Elem.; Julie Maestas, Principal, White Sands School; Joel Aguilar-Villanueva, Principal, Zia Middle; Ann Marie Mora, Criss Grubbs and Bobby Campos, Assistant Principals, Las Cruces High; and Kathy Vigil, Assistant Principal, Oñate High.

Central Office:  Dr. Jennifer Haan, Executive Director for Bilingual & Migrant Education; and Heather Kingery, Executive Director of Leadership.

GRADS Program Funding

The Graduation, Reality and Dual Skills (GRADS) program—a school-based, support program for expectant and parenting teens—will no longer receive funding at the national level, so LCPS has applied for a grant through the NMPED, which would allow the program to utilize state funding to pay for the salaries of the program’s three LCPS staff members.

To ensure the program will be funded, without interruption, for the 2017-18 school year, Dr. Ewing said the district has developed an emergency budget contingency plan, which would utilize district operational funds to pay for the program, in the event the program doesn’t receive state funding through the grant.

“We have no intention of shutting the program down. It is a program that is working, and I would ask that our U.S. Secretary of Education reevaluate this for the benefit of children,” Ewing said.

Since the NMPED notified LCPS earlier this year that the program was slated to lose funding at the national level, LCPS has continued to work with the NMPED to seek out a variety of funding options for the program.

For more information, contact: LCPS Communications Coordinator Paul Dahlgren, pdahlgren@lcps.net, (575) 527-5808.