Recognizes Elks for their service
by Carol Bridge
RATON — Grim news for Raton Public Schools: Longfellow and Raton Intermediate School have slipped in ‘grades’ after results in national testing. The Raton High School maintained its ‘C’ grade from last year, but the intermediate school fell from a ‘D’ to an ‘F’ and Longfellow fell from a ‘A’ to a ‘B’ this year. This news was disappointing to the board, and Superintendent Andy Ortiz spent some time giving possible reasons but took responsibility and promised to seek and find answers.
The board recognized Ernie Brown from the Raton Elks Club for all that he and the Elks do for the Raton Schools. The club provides monthly recognition for students of the month, drug prevention, and bullying programs, and thousands of dollars in scholarships for local graduates.
Brenda Ferri, Exalted Ruler, appeared to help Ernie explain some of the upcoming activities that the club will provide including the yearly Hoop Shoot and junior league basketball. Other activities planned for this year include a poster, essay, and video contest and a a new club for students, the Junior Elks – which will be modeled after the organization.
Ortiz thanked Brown and Ferri for all that they do. The board presented Brown a plaque in a show of appreciation. Brown gave credit for much of the work that the Elks do for the school to Desiree Siva, Dynette Silva, and Tracy Garrett.
Benjamin Sanchez addressed the board as a concerned student. He had questions and suggestions about the Raton Robotic Team and its future. He wanted the board to know how time consuming the job of Robotic Sponsor is and to ask the board to increase the remuneration to that position because of the dedication and sacrifice that is needed. He also would like to see the Robotic Team open its opportunities to the entire student body, including those attending home schools. Currently, the team is only available to those who have been selected to the gifted and talented program (a part of special education) and he feels that more students with a keen interest would make the team even stronger. The Raton Robotics team has earned recognition and awards both in the state and regionally. Vacancies Ortiz reported on the progress of filling vacant teacher positions and explained that a choir and band teacher has not been hired. He hopes someone from the community will step forward and work as a substitute until the position can be filled so that the program will remain intact. Ortiz stated that the position will remain open until Christmas, or that the program will be ended for the entire year. Two social studies teachers will be interviewing in the next week and he hopes to fill that vacancy.
Board member Beaver Segotta stated that he has had complaints from parents about a $25 technology fee that is being charged to students for computers at the Intermediate School. The discussion centered around the fact that there is simply no money in the budget to replace the laptops that are being worn out or malfunctioning. Technology at the Raton Schools is considered a luxury, and the board discussed the necessity of planning for replacing the computers.
Charges to attend activities
Along this line, board member Jason Phillips asked if the school could possibly stop charging students for attending their own activities. He reminded the group that it is a goal of the school to increase student participation and involvement, and that charging to attend these events was counter productive. Ortiz stated that charging students served to limit the crowds and the need to provide more ‘crowd’ control by staff. He also said that the biggest problem during events was that some parents dropped off children from 7-10 pm and expected the school to babysit these children at games. Duncan Ware, Raton High School Principal, added that it is becoming harder to recruit officials and referees for games and that many of them are coming from as far away as Albuquerque. Proceeds from the gate are used to pay for these people to travel. Philips suggested that honor students be given a pass to activities as a reward.