RIO RANCHO, N.M. — The Rio Rancho Public Schools Board of Education commended one of the district’s outstanding teachers and approved saving some $4,000 annually on the New Mexico School Boards Association’s “policy service” in a brief, 17-minute session Jan. 14.
Then the board decided it needed a special meeting this Monday afternoon at 4:30 to discuss accepting students from Santa Ana Pueblo into the district.
In the notice of the special meeting, the purpose is to hear report from RRPS administration about a recommendation of former Public Education Department Secretary designate Christopher Ruszkowski to form a ‘new’ school district consisting of RRPS and the Pueblo of Santa Ana, and to discuss and direct next steps.
At the Jan. 14 regularly scheduled meeting, Mountain View Middle School teacher Denise Agan was congratulated for being selected as the state’s lone winner of the National University System-Sanford Teacher Award, with which she’ll receive $10,000 for demonstrating commitment to creating an inspirational and harmonious classroom.
Asked how she planned to spend the 10K, Agan replied, “paying bills.”
“We’re very blessed to have teachers of your caliber in this district,” board President Ramon Montaño said.
“I hired Denise as an (education assistant) and health assistant many years ago,” said former MVMS Principal Julie Arnold, now at Cyber Academy. “I am so excited to see that she has become the amazing, award-winning teacher that she is. She has always been a quiet leader that the students respect. She works hard and looks for opportunities for the students to be successful. Recently, she facilitated a group of students that won an award for putting together an app for the Verizon App Challenge and won $5,000 for the school.”
Board members also heard about the benefits of having a motivated plethora of volunteers giving their time to classrooms, field trips, library duties, etc.
April Edwards, who works in the Information Technology Department for RRPS, told the board that RRPS has 3,548 active volunteers; 200 of them volunteer regularly, giving between four and 22 hours weekly. The first-semester total of 27,681 hours by volunteers is equivalent to almost 33 employees.
As for tomorrow’s meeting, before leaving his office due to the change in administration in the governor’s office, Ruszkowski had recommended shifting the Santa Ana students from Bernalillo Schools to RRPS. In his recommendation, Ruszkowski noted that RRPS serves more Native American students and has better results.
An estimated 100 Santa Ana Pueblo students are enrolled now in Bernalillo schools, although Ruszkowski’s replacement, yet to be named, will ultimately decide if that plan is carried through.
Naturally, transportation issues will play a role in this.