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Artesia Public Schools (APS) Board of Education President Jeff Bowman welcomed James T. “Thad” Phipps to his first meeting as Superintendent of Schools Monday night.

“We would like to welcome Mr. Phipps, as this is his first board meeting,” Bowman said. “Welcome, we’re very proud and happy to have you.”

“I’m very happy to be here and, certainly, it’s a privilege to be with everybody on the team here in this meeting tonight,” Phipps said. “I appreciate all the principals we’ve got and the wonderful team of folks.”

In agenda business, Health and Wellness Director Mitzi McCaleb received the board’s approval of the Section 504 Grievance procedure “that was generated by our attorneys and approved by the Office of Civil Rights.”

McCaleb reported that this procedure and proof of subsequent training should be the final compliance step the district must take to complete their OCR review.

McCaleb also received the board’s approval of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with West Texas Counseling & Guidance/Permian Basin Counseling and Guidance to utilize the “old” administration building on Quay Avenue, now referred to as the Bulldog Wellness Center, for the sole purpose of providing out-patient mental health therapy services to students and staff of the APS.

Special Education Director Cari Jowers received the board’s approval of the annual MOU with Artesia Head Start.

Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education and Federal Programs Tammy Davis received the board’s approval to purchase IXL Site licenses for 2,725 students for IXL Learning for a total of $441,381. This is an annual fee. The purchase will be from the district’s ESSER Funds.

Assistant Superintendent of Transportation and Operations, Cody Skinner, received the board’s approval of:

• a statewide price agreement from Triwest Fence for new fencing at Yeso Elementary School for a total cost of $29,793.95. “This fencing is necessary to provide greater safety for students while on the playground,” Skinner said.

• a quote from Visual Impressions Plus/InaBind of New Mexico for upgrades to the cut-out machines and poster makers the teachers utilize for their classrooms at a total cost of $38,408.78.

• a CES quote from AK Sales for exterior tables and benches for the front lawn area of Artesia High School at a cost of $31,700.91.

• a CES quote from Security USA for the annual access control service agreement at a cost of $29,131.87. “This service is necessary to ensure the proper function of the keycard system on our exterior doors,” Skinner reported.

• a quote from Advanced Environmental for air filters for the district’s mechanical units at a total cost of $21,060.56. The purchase will cover four filter changes for the school year.

• the rejection of bids received for a mobile home for Penasco School. “We received two bids” Skinner said, “and both were higher than what we are willing to pay. “

• a CES proposal from Homespot of Portales for a three-bedroom, two-bath manufactured home to be placed at Penasco School in the amount of $116,717.16.

In his staff and operations report to the board, Phipps reported the:

• retirement announcements of Shawna Baswell, certified occupational therapist assistant, and Judy Henderson, special education teacher at Grand Heights Early Childhood Center.

• resignation announcements of Krystal Cartwright, Yeso Elementary School special education teacher; Savanna Curtman, Yeso first-grade teacher; Karla Escobedo, Artesia High School (AHS) Spanish teacher; Maribel Gabaldon, Zia Intermediate School cook/helper; Maria Lucero, Park Junior High School cook/helper/ and Sabrina Sanchez, AHS custodian.

• employment announcements of Brenda Tovar, Park secretary; Ginger Neilson, Hermosa Elementary School secretary; Robin Volentine, Yucca Elementary School third-grade teacher; Jessica Morgan, Zia piano accompanist and choral assistant; Angelica Rodriguez, AHS receptionist; Julieta Gomez, AHS custodian; and Juliana Iboa, AHS custodian.

At the request of Phipps, the board approved a special meeting for 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 26, to review and approve unforeseen modification change requests for the AHS Auditorium renovation that could amount to more than $500,000 in change-order request approval from the board.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the board will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 8, in the Lowell M. Irby Board Room at the APS Administration Building.

The first day of the 2022-23 school year for the APS district is Thursday, Aug. 11.