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Artesia Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Crit Caton, fifth from left, displays the specially-designed ring he was awarded in recognition of his selection as Superintendent of the Year during Monday’s meeting of the APS Board of Education. Joining Caton are, from left, Assistant Superintendent Thad Phipps, Business Manager Janet Grice, board members Carolyn Shearman and Jeff Bowman, board president Lowll Irby, board member David Conklin, administrative assistant Josie Reyes, and Assistant Superintendents John Ross Null and Danny Parker. (Teresa Lemon – Daily Press)

The Artesia Public Schools Board of Education received a report from Business Manager Janet Grice Monday on the Artesia Public Schools’ 2015-16 audit. Grice reported there had only been one minor finding on the entire audit, and it was “a very minor finding.”

Grice further reported the loss of funds to the district this fiscal year will be $210,657.29, as required by the Public Education Department under the provisions of SB9 as enacted during the 2016 second special session. The reductions for the state total $17.5 million are from instructional materials distribution ($5 million) and transportation distribution ($2.5 million).

In executing the reductions for the district, it was decided to reduce instructional material by $96,978.29 and transportation by $113,679 for the required amount of $210,657.29.

“After receiving the forecast projections at the LFS a couple of weeks ago, economists from three executive agencies have revised figures downward for the state’s annual revenue stream by $130.8 billion dollars to $5.6 billion for the current year and $127.3 billion for fiscal year beginning July 2108,” said APS Superintendent Dr. Crit Caton. “The state will collect $109 million less during the current budget year than last year. The new revenue forecast indicates that spending is likely to outstrip operating reserves by $69 million or just over 1 percent during the current fiscal year.

“Long story short, I think they are going to hit the schools for another $30 million in fiscal year 2017 just to balance the budget in the current year we are in. What the legislators supported was the reductions to instructional material and transportation statewide. If we had made the cuts where PED wanted us to, we would lose buses; we wouldn’t be able to transport kids. And the bottom line is that we are making up for that difference in our cash balance.

“So either way, even though they are not sweeping out cash, with a 1.5-percent reduction to the State Equalization Guarantee (SEG) and the reductions to transportation and instructional materials, the total loss to our district is $625,657.29.”

Caton also commended Grice and the business office staff for “the job they have done; to have only one minimal finding in the audit is a tribute to the work this office does and the work they do.”

In other business Monday, the board presented Dr. Crit Caton, superintendent, with a specially-designed ring in recognition of his selection as Superintendent of the Year for the State of New Mexico during Monday’s school board meeting.

Artesia Public Schools Board of Education member Carolyn Shearman displays a plaque recognizing her service on the Public Education Commission at Monday’s meeting. Joining her are, from left, board member Jeff Bowman, Superintendent Dr. Crit Caton, board president Lowell Irby, and board member David Conklin. (Teresa Lemon – Daily Press)

Board member David Conklin was also recognized for his selection as the recipient of the New Mexico School Board Association’s Leader Development Award, and board president Lowell Irby was presented with a silver Nambe platter from the NMSBA for his 24 years of service to the district (although this is Irby’s 38th year).

The board additionally presented Carolyn Shearman with a plaque recognizing her years of service to the students of New Mexico by serving on the Public Education Commission. Shearman will be exiting the commission next month.

The board also received a report from Assistant Superintendents John Ross Null and Danny Parker on the development of the 90-Day Plans for the district’s individual schools.

“I just want to commend Mr. Null and Mr. Parker for taking this task on,” said Caton. “It is not required until 2017, and they volunteered to get it done. So we will be ahead of the game again as far as most other districts in the state are concerned. This is going to help our students and their teachers, and that’s what we are concerned about.”

The board has called a special meeting for 8 a.m. Friday for the purpose of reviewing the Five-Year Facilities Master Plan.

“We will meet Friday morning, it will be a public meeting, and we will accept questions from the public if they have any questions about the plan itself,” said Caton. “It will be the opportunity for the board to go through it with a fine-toothed comb so that we can have the approval of the board into the PSFA by our January meeting.”

Caton also reported the resignations of Lynetta Callaway, special education assistant in the DD preschool program, and Missy Madrid, custodian at Grand Heights Early Childhood Center. Aaron Kuykendall was announced as a new family consumer science teacher at Artesia High School.

Caton advised the board the School Board Election will be held Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, with three seats on the board up for election. They include District 1, currently held by Lowell Irby, District 2, currently held by Margaret Aguilar, and District 4, currently held by Conklin.

“In speaking with the members, I am sure that Conklin and Irby will be declaring their candidacy, but I don’t believe Ms. Aguilar is going to seek another term,” Caton said.

The deadline to file for candidacy to the board is 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 20, at the Eddy County offices in either Artesia or Carlsbad.

The next regularly-scheduled meeting of the APS Board will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 9, 2017.