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Park Junior High School math teacher/coach Derek Montoya, with his wife, Jamie, and son, Kion, receives the Tate Branch Auto Group Success Maker Award for the month of May from Tate Branch, right. (Teresa Lemon – Daily Press)

The Artesia Public Schools Board of Education recognized the senior members of the state champion Artesia High School rodeo team during Monday night’s regularly-scheduled board meeting.

“This is their third state title since they have been competing in high school rodeo,” said coach Kerrie Pitts of the senior members, “and the one year they didn’t win, they were reserve state champions.

“They have been an exceptional team, and it’s going to be really, really hard to follow in their footsteps.”

The senior members are Maddy Deerman, Kaitlyn Harwell, Beau Kelley and Bryce McCormick.

Derek Montoya, math teacher at Park Junior High School, received the Tate Branch Success Maker Award for the month of May. Montoya was nominated anonymously in a letter that read, “Thank you for being the best teacher I’ve had this year. Thank you for helping me with my work even when I didn’t want to ask. Thank you for teaching me in a way that helps me to understand.”

“Derek is a fantastic teacher,” said Park Principal Cody Skinner. “He has a great rapport with the kids, as well as the students, and he’s just a great addition to our staff.”

Tate Branch was also presented with the NMSBA Excellence in Student Achievement Award.

Branch was nominated by the APS board for “having gone above and beyond to help students in the Artesia Public Schools district by various ways and means, and things they do to help kids and help to improve student achievement.”

“This community is known for what it does for our kids and our school system,” said Lowell Irby, board president, “and you’re a good example of that, so thank you for what you do for our kids.”

In other business, the board approved the purchase of six Aquos Boards for the district in the amount of $31,168.31, with the funding coming from a private donor, and the purchase of desks and chairs at Park in the amount of $118,467.21, with funding coming from the HB33 account.

The board also approved an increase in school lunch prices for the upcoming school year from $2.75 to $3, stating this would be the first increase in lunch prices in more than three years.

Tate Branch is awarded the NMSBA Excellence in Student Achievement Award by APS board president Lowell M. Irby, left, and APS Superintendent Dr. Crit Caton, right. (Teresa Lemon – Daily Press)

Assistant Superintendent of Operations Thad Phipps received the board’s approval to accept proposals for speech language services for $69 per hour; janitorial services for the district from Quality Janitorial Services in the amount of $197,925.85; from PVT for Smartnets in the amount of $32,527.80; and the replacement of one hollow metal frame door and glazing at Hermosa Elementary School from Holloway Construction in the amount of $22,209.86.

APS Superintendent Dr. Crit Caton reported the retirement of Vicky Parrish, secretary at Hermosa Elementary School, after 31 years of service to the district; the resignations of Kathryn Elofson, educational assistant, Hermosa, Chris Galbraith, social studies teacher/coach, Park, Jerry Gowler, band assistant, Artesia High School, Dr. Maria Haase, Spanish teacher and chair, AHS, Cecilia Rangel, APS cafeteria worker, Kaylee Rodriguez, third-grade teacher, Yucca Elementary, Cindy Stone, fifth-grade teacher, Yucca, and Mark Stone, math and computer science teacher, AHS; and the employment of Dorothy Berckes, second-grade teacher, Yucca, Kayla Bickel, social studies teacher, Zia Intermediate, Kayla Bird, math teacher, AHS, Calletano Chavarria, custodian, Park, Leslie Lewis, special education inclusion teacher, AHS, Evan Nevarez, Spanish teacher/coach, AHS, Adrian Olivas, special education inclusion teacher, AHS, Carmen Reyes, secretary, Zia, Corey Saxon, science teacher/coach, Zia, Ofelia Verela, custodian, Park, and Stacy Verdin, math teacher, AHS.

Assistant Superintendent of Personnel and Student Services John Ross Null reported to the board that with the current employment actions, there are only five certified positions left vacant in the district.

“We have some good applicants for those positions, so all things considered, I feel like we are in good shape for June,” Null said.

The next meeting of the APS board will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, July 16, in the Lowell M. Irby Board Room at the Administration Building, 301 Bulldog Blvd.