After months of research, tours and discussions, the LCPS Capital Outlay Advisory Committee presented the Board of Education with recommendations for a proposed $50 million general obligation bond election which will be presented to voters on Feb. 6, 2018.
If the election passes, it would fund new classroom construction, safety and security upgrades, school renovations, roofs and furniture, playground equipment, districtwide technology support, and phase I of major upgrades to the physical plant and operations facilities. There would be no tax rate increase for voters.
“We are recommending projects that would provide the most long-term benefits to the learning environment for our students and working environment for our employees,” said LCPS community outreach liaison and bond committee member Brigitte Zigelhofer. “Since the requests totaled more than $200 million [with only $50 million available] we did our best to provide equitable solutions for schools across the district.”
The committee was composed of parents, teachers, principals, district staff and community members who thoroughly reviewed and prioritized all of the districtwide requests for capital outlay projects. Earlier this year, the district officials also received data from Architectural Research Consultants (ARC) which identified a need to add additional classrooms at several existing schools, but did not recommend building an entirely new school.
The Board will take action at its Nov. 14 meeting to approve holding the school bond election which would include the list of the committee’s recommendation.
Interim CFO Announced
Since the search process for a permanent Chief Financial Officer is still ongoing, Ed Ellison, formerly the Assistant Superintendent of Finance, has been named Interim CFO until a new CFO is selected.
At the Oct. 19 board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Greg Ewing announced that Chief Financial Officer Crystal Valdez would be retiring in November.
NM Teach Plus Presentation
Centennial High School Teacher Joel Hutchinson described the successes of 15 LCPS teachers who are participating in the New Mexico Teach Plus teaching policy fellowship. Hutchinson explained that as Teach Plus fellows, the teachers have successfully provided recommendations which were incorporated into the Statewide Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan, as well as recommendations to improve upon the PED’s NM Teach evaluation system, and teaching mentorship programs.
SEG Funding Update
The district continues to seek out funding it believes should be forwarded to LCPS. In another attempt to acquire that funding, the Board of Education approved a letter requesting that the PED Secretary-Designate Christopher Ruszkowski allocate funding appropriated by the legislature to increase the unit value by $16 per student under the State Equalization Guarantee. Earlier this year, during the first special session of the year, the legislature appropriated $10 million in funding to the PED to offset any deficiencies that would result from the PED increasing the unit value.
If the PED were to utilize the funds to raise the unit value by $16 per student, this would equate to nearly $700,000 in additional funds for LCPS.
Construction Projects Update
Director of Construction Gloria Martinez provided the Board with a report about the ongoing construction projects throughout the district. According to the report, the second phase of the additions and renovations to Las Cruces High School is estimated to be complete by February 2018. The $40 million phase included the construction of a new auxiliary gymnasium, cafeteria, tennis and basketball courts and the renovation of several campus buildings. The project was funded through 2014 general obligation bonds and matching funds from the Public School Capital Outlay Council.
The report also provided updates about the ongoing construction of the new multipurpose room at Hermosa Heights Elementary, the cafeteria renovation at Mayfield High School and the installation of security doors at Alameda Elementary, Fairacres Elementary and Picacho Middle School.
Water Quality Testing in the Schools
Executive Director of Physical Plant Bobby Stout discussed the results of a water quality test that was performed at Desert Hills Elementary School. The test, which utilized samples from numerous fixtures throughout the school, revealed that copper and lead levels from all 25 samples were well below—in some cases roughly 20 times below—the legal limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency.
“The quality of the water entering our school buildings is assured by the City of Las Cruces under a federal mandate…the City consistently tests all the water for a wide range of things, including hard metals, and they have consistently met all of their water quality goals,” Stout said. “This measure is simply a proactive approach to verify those assurances.”
Board President Maria Flores followed up the presentation with a recommendation to test the water at an older school to ensure consistent water quality across the district.
Community Schools Update
Community School Coordinator David Greenberg discussed the results of surveys, workshops, focus groups and a needs assessment at Lynn Middle School, as the school transforms into the city’s first community school. “We’ve taken it upon ourselves to engage 75 to 100 percent of our staff, students, families and community with this assessment,” Greenberg said. “This is a critical step to help empower these stakeholder groups to inspire change from within.” Greenberg will give a presentation about the community schools effort at the Nov. 16 joint work session with the City Council. Earlier this month, the Council passed a resolution in support of the community schools movement.
National Education Association-New Mexico Vice President Mary Parr-Sanchez also discussed a possible a joint powers agreement between LCPS and the City of Las Cruces that would foster better communication and collaboration between the two entities.
Ethnic Studies and Restorative Justice Update
Andres Armijo, Coordinator of Ethnic Studies and Restorative Justice, discussed the highlights of the first restorative justice task force meeting, which explored the logistics of implementing the program within LCPS.
Armijo also shared highlights from the second ethnic studies task force meeting, which gathered input to create a mission statement. In addition, he announced that the New Mexico State University College of Arts and Sciences has established a graduate-level ethnic studies course, with the hope of incorporating ethnic studies into the current curriculum.
Alliance of United Cultures
Desert Hills Elementary School (DHES) Assistant Principal Rachel Polk described a new ethnic studies department initiative called the Alliance of United Cultures. It began at DHES as a way to provide support for students who speak neither English nor Spanish and to provide cultural education opportunities for staff and students. Similar to the International Welcome Centers in LCPS high schools, the initiative offers support services such as tutoring and translation services to assist students from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. The initiative was developed in partnership with parents, teachers and the NMSU Muslim Student Association.
English Learner and Bilingual Programs Update
Dr. Roberto Lozano, chief officer of Equity, Innovation and Social Justice, explained that changes to the survey that the district uses to identify a student’s home language, and changes to annual proficiency test that is used to identify English Learners (EL) has led to a drastic increase in the number of students identified as ELs.
“Identifying these students helps us provide the support services these students need to be successful,” Lozano said. “The increase in identified ELs follows a statewide upward trend that will likely increase even more next year.”
Dr. Jennifer Haan, executive director of Bilingual and Migrant Education, went on to explain the variety of initiatives LCPS has instituted to support ELs.
2018 Bond Election Voting Centers Selected
Community Outreach Liaison Brigitte Zigelhofer outlined the voting locations for the Feb. 6, 2018 school general obligation bond election. Early and absentee voting for a $50 million bond election will take place Jan. 6 through Feb. 2, 2018 at the Doña Ana County Clerk’s Office. The voting locations are as follows: Jornada Elementary School, Mayfield High School, Thomas Branigan Memorial Library, Doña Ana County Government Center, Las Cruces High School, Tombaugh Elementary School, Las Alturas Fire Station, Hillrise Elementary School, East Picacho Elementary School, Fairacres Elementary School, Desert Hills Elementary School, Sonoma Elementary School and Sunrise Elementary School.
Voting locations and voting dates will be included in a Resolution and Proclamation that the Board will adopt Nov. 14. Individuals wishing to vote in the election must be registered to vote before 5 p.m. on Jan. 9, 2018.
Goodwill Industries Proposal
Goodwill Industries of El Paso, Inc. (GIEP) discussed an Employee Development Service program (EDS), that it wants to implement at one or more LCPS high school.
The potential program would establish a small, fully functioning Goodwill retail store at a high school, which would focus on training students with disabilities in the development of employability skills, attitudes, interpersonal skills, work behaviors and functional capacities to prepare to seek employment after graduating high school.
“The program provides career readiness skills for students with physical or cognitive disabilities who are preparing to graduate from high school,” said Yvonne Flores, CEO of Goodwill Industries of El Paso, Inc. “Each student who participates in the program, with their parent or guardian’s approval, receives a service plan that offers classroom instruction and hand-on job training, customized their specific job training needs, disabilities and learning style.”
Since 2010, the program has worked in partnership with the Ysleta Independent School District in El Paso.
-LCPS Communications Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org, (575) 527-5808.