by Carol Bridge
RATON —Ted Kamp, vice chair, opened the Monday, September 17, 2018 Raton board of education meeting in the absence of chairperson Kathy Honeyfield.
The main topic of discussion was about school grades recently released from the New Mexico Public Education Department, and what steps the district can take to improve these scores.
Raton Public School received the following grades by building:
• Longfellow Elementary received a B, down from an A last year.
• Raton Intermediate School (RIS) received an F, down from a D last year.
• Raton High School received a C, (RHS has performed consistently for four years with a C grade).
RIS was a topic of much discussion with board members attempting to ascertain the reason for the low mark. Principal Kristie Medina spoke to the board about the tremendous shakeup of teaching staff caused by last year’s budgetary cuts. She noted many teachers were reassigned to different grades and it will take time for them to adjust to a new student population and material. She noted this had caused some experienced teachers to be forced into essentially having the same orientation problems new teachers have.
Superintendent Andy Ortiz explained the rubric used to grade schools: according to student improvement, PARCC testing including math and reading proficiencies, truancy, and rate of graduation. Ortiz confirmed that RIS suffered the most upheaval as a result of last year’s NM Public Education Department cuts.
Longfellow Elementary School’s grade had dropped from last year’s A to a B, and its principal, Kim Sanchez, said probable cause is that a few teachers are not making positive changes in their teaching methodology fast enough.
Teacher effectiveness scores have been made available to the superintendent and principals and there was a lengthy discussion held about the numbers of ‘ineffective’ or ’minimally effective’ teachers each building had and how their performance hurts overall student achievement.
Board members Jason Phillips and Beaver Segotta asked about how the school can take steps to terminate ineffective teachers. Ortiz answered with the steps administration must take and said that it is difficult to remove teachers as long as they are making even minimal progress.
A great deal of teacher evaluation is based on attendance, and Duncan Ware the principal of Raton High School said a few teachers missed being rated as ‘highly effective’ simply by having absences. Each absence counts against their evaluation and can easily move them down a rank with just a few absences.
Longfellow Elementary had seven ‘Highly Effective’, three ‘Ineffective’ and three ‘Minimally Effective’ teachers.
Raton Intermediate School had six ‘Highly Effective’, seven ‘Effective’, eight ‘Minimally Effective’ and one ‘Ineffective’ teacher.
Ortiz ended the discussion with the statement, “all we can do is to keep training, keep trying and keep working with the community.”
The student senate president, Jose Archuleta, gave the board an update on upcoming sports events including fun things leading up to Homecoming. There will be ‘dress up days’, a powder puff game, a ‘Rowdeo’ and a golf tournament. He introduced members of the Student Senate and FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America) and their sponsor, Raquel Archuleta.
Student Senate officers are Jose Archuleta, President. Kerrigan Weese, Vice President. Jennifer Acosta, Secretary. Donavin Mendez, Treasurer. Tori Anne Platero, Public Relations.
Raton High School FCCLA Chapter officers are Ginger Baird, President. Jose Archuleta, Vice President. Taylor Aragon, VP of Public Relations. Estafani Martinez Colin, Secretary. Rhianna Hopper, VP of Membership.
State FCCLA officers are Jennifer Acosta, State President. Kaylee Maes, Vice President of Parliamentary Law. Anna Acosta, VP of Public Relations. Aaron Mendez, VP Community Service. Zebediah Medina, Junior VP of Membership. Superintendent Ortiz praised the FCCLA group and reminded the audience about all the state and national awards that this group has won. Special thanks to Jose Archuleta for providing these names and titles.
RHS and the Raton Elks Lodge announced the awards for Students of the Month for September: 7th Grade – Christian Kamp. 8th Grade – Lenor Hernandez. Most improved – Genevieve Gonzales. Student Service – Asia Gentry. Academic Student of the month – Skyler Mastrantoni.
Rich Kuhns gave a short talk about the school’s technology. He said, ‘All of your technology is outdated’ and gave some idea of the latest IT trends that are being developed for educational use. Kuhns says that the future will be in ‘augmented reality’ and artificial intelligence. He spoke about ‘infusion’ learning and how these technologies will change teaching and learning as we know it. Cost of these programs will be $2,500 per student and the board has asked Kuhns to schedule another time to discuss this further.
Several policy changes were voted on as a bundle. The board went into executive session and the meeting was adjourned. The next meeting will be on October 15 at 6 pm in the Raton High School library.