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From left, Artesia Public Schools Board of Education members Jeff Bowman, David Conklin, Luis Florez, Cherie Widmayer, and board president Lowell M. Irby pose with a cake celebrating the board’s selection as the NMBA’s large-district School Board of the Year Monday. (Teresa Lemon – Daily Press)

Artesia Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Crit Caton announced Monday that the APS Board of Education will be honored as New Mexico School Board of the Year, large-district, during the NMSBA Annual Convention in December.

The board was nominated by Caton, who said, in part, “Our board members serve for one reason, to help kids. Each member uses the membership as a service to our community’s children and are especially concerned about improving their educational opportunities for future success.”

“We are here for the kids,” APS Board President Lowell Irby said, “and I hope that’s the way it remains.”

Those in attendance were treated to cake and punch in honor of the event.

The board then recognized Central Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Amy Johnson as the Tate Branch Success Maker for the month of October.

Johnson was nominated by several of her students, one of whom wrote, “I want to thank Mrs. Johnson for helping me in accelerated reading and accelerated math, and she is a Ninja.”

“Amy Johnson is the model of what you would ask a teacher to be,” Central principal Tammy Davis said, “both in the classroom and outside of the classroom, and her strongest attribute is the connection she makes with the kids.”

“Thank you,” Johnson said. “My fellow co-workers and the kids make it all worthwhile, thanks so much.”

The board received a report on the progress achieved on the district’s focus areas of student achievement and support of staff from Assistant Superintendent of Personnel and Student Services John Ross Null.

Null outlined the various workshops being offered to teachers and staff in the district for professional development, the many different trainings APS has and will be hosting in the training facility, as well as a report on the effectiveness of the Illuminate testing system for students the board had purchased to replace outdated testing procedures.

In other business, the board gave approval to Assistant Superintendent of Operations Thad Phipps to purchase a seven-passenger vehicle from Guy Chevrolet in the amount of $31,296.55; to purchase 25 desktop computers for Artesia High School in the amount of $35,653; to purchase a new fire alarm system for Bulldog Pit in the amount of $88,043.87; to purchase a 2019 Dodge Ram 1500 truck for the maintenance supervisor in the amount of $40,063.91; and to purchase new fencing for the AHS vocational ag parking lot, the baseball and softball fields at the Mack Chase Athletic Complex, and the Bulldog Bowl practice field in the amount of $42,722.13

Caton announced the resignation of Melinda Gamboa, cafeteria worker at Hermosa Elementary, and the employment of Sharon Lentz, cafeteria helper at Hermosa, and Melissa Warren, math teacher at Artesia High.

The next regularly-scheduled meeting of the board will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 10, in the Lowell M. Irby Board Room at the Administration Building, 301 Bulldog Blvd.