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The Artesia Public Schools Board of Education began its Monday meeting by reviewing the results of the Special School Election (5 Mill Levy) results.

The bill received a 92-percent passage with a total of 378 votes cast, 347 for and 31 against. The passage will continue the levy for six more years.

Business manager Janet Grice presented the bills, budget report, budget adjustments and fund balance report to the board, which were approved. Grice reported to the board that the balance in the APS Revenue Fund, which has a current balance of more than $3 million for Operational Year 2015-16, is anticipated to be down $253,000 due to a decrease in oil and gas revenues. The balance in the SB-9 Fund, which has a current balance of $5.2 million, is anticipated to be down $913,673, and the balance in the HB-33 account, which has a current balance of more than $24 million, is also anticipated to be down $1.8 million.

The board also received an update from the architectural firm Dekker-Perich-Sabatini that the firm was ready, if approved, to go out for a Request For Proposal (RFP) on the estimated $12.9 million APS Administration Building. The board granted the request. The new building will be constructed at the former site of the Artesia High School Natatorium.

Assistant Superintendent of Personnel and Student Services John Ross Null sought the board’s approval of the 2015-16 Quality of Education Survey, and after discussion and suggested changes to the questions, the board approved the request as amended.

Null also reported on the recent changes by the New Mexico Public Education Department to the NMTEACH Evaluation Plan, which in a memorandum to New Mexico school districts from the PED stated that, “Based upon feedback from educators and beginning with the current school year, the PED is updating the NMTEACH summative evaluation in order to simplify the system and establish better clarity.

“With this update, only individual student achievement will be included in a teacher’s student achievement measure of the NMTEACH summative report. A group measure will no longer be an option for an individual teacher’s evaluation. Additionally, only SBA/PARCC, EoCs and DIBELS/IDEL will comprise measures of student achievement for purposes of calculating value-added scores (VAS). In order to obtain the most up-to-date data for all teachers for the 2015-16 school years and all subsequent years, NMTEACH summative reports will be available to districts in the fall semester following the most recent school year. This will enable teachers to have the most recent student achievement data, along with their recent qualitative data, as part of their summative report.”

Assistant Superintendent of Operations Thad Phipps sought the board’s approval to accept a CES proposal to update the district’s Five-Year Facilities Master Plan at a cost of $75,739.12. After much discussion by the board, they requested Phipps attempt to lower this price as they felt the current five-year plan only needed updating rather than a complete overhaul. The item was tabled until the next board meeting.

Phipps also sought the board’s approval to accept the top-ranking offer to complete the AHS security vestibule project of $598,063.97. This project includes the construction of a security vestibule at AHS as well as a School Resource Officer office and renovation of the principal’s office and the counselors’ suite. The project would be conducted for the most part during Spring Break of this year. The request was approved. It was also approved to accept a CES proposal for asbestos abatement at the high school for $21,595.92, which will be conducted in conjunction with this project.

Phipps further sought the board’s approval to purchase a John Deere Gator and spray rig equipment for the maintenance department in the amount of $33,684.89. Phipps reported to the board that an employee would receive training on the equipment and it would eliminate the district from having to hire outside companies to conduct weed abatement in the Artesia Public Schools district. The board approved the request.

Superintendent Dr. Crit Caton announced to the board the retirements of Elisardo Esquibel, maintenance assistant with the maintenance department; William Jones, maintenance assistant with the maintenance\ department; Sandra Moreno, school nurse for the district; and Kim Scroggin, kindergarten teacher, Grand Heights Early Childhood Center. The resignation of Rocio Espinoza, library assistant at Zia Intermediate School, was also announced.

In a construction update to the board by Caton, it was reported all security vestibules in the APS with the exception of the high school have been completed, as has the HVAC system at Bulldog Pit.

The next meeting of the Artesia Public Schools Board of Education is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, March 14.