RRPS board asks state for full transportation funding

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — There was a lot of money talk at Monday’s meeting of the Rio Rancho Public Schools Board of Education.

There was also talk about a lack of money — and the board voted to have all five members sign a resolution, sent to the Public Education Department secretary, “formally documenting reasons why the full cost should be allocated.”

That “full cost” is what the district lacks from the state for transportation, in which the district came out $800,000 short after what Chief Operations Officer Mike Baker said was a million-dollar shortfall the year before.

“This (money) comes out of the classroom,” lamented board member Ramon Montaño, aware that some districts have a surplus for transportation. “This is serious enough and has gone on for too long.”

“You’re right, it comes out of our classrooms,” Superintendent Sue Cleveland said, explaining that part of the problem is that other districts run two tiers of bus routes, as opposed to three tiers required for RRPS to transport all of its elementary, middle and high school students.

The board also approved the bond resolution, after hearing details of when the bonds will be sold and when proceeds could be expected. The question being put before voters in November seeks a $60 million general obligation bond issuance, of which $46 million could be used to update the district’s failing HVAC systems.

Also, the board took time to acknowledge and commend:

• District and state spelling champ Eliana Juarez of Mountain View Middle School, headed to the national bee in Washington, D.C.;

• District music educators for Rio Rancho being named one of four Best Communities for Music Education Award-winners in the state;

• The Lincoln Middle School choir — with 35 female singers performing the national anthem before the meeting — becoming champions at the state middle school competition for the second year in a row;

• 30 school winners of grants, including four from Sandia Vista Elementary, from the Rio Rancho Education Foundation; and

• The Kiwanis Club and its Schumann Foundation, thanking them for a $10,000 check that will go for college scholarships.

In business matters, the board:

• Heard three people speak in the public comment sessions: a man noting the extra sleep needed by teens and wishing school hours to be changed; a woman explain that her Cleveland High senior had a state tournament soccer game Sunday when the rest of the CHS Class of 2019 was rehearsing for Monday’s graduation ceremonies and would thus be ineligible to participate in the ceremony; and Ken Todd, retiring after 23 years as athletic events supervisor at RRHS.

• Heard departmental reports from student services and facilities;

• OK’d $140,000 to go to the fine arts department for the adoption of new instructional materials;

• Approved additional projects inserted into the facilities department’s master plan, which included gunshot detection for Cleveland and Rio Rancho high schools, security cameras for the four middle schools and upgrades to the public-address system at CHS;

• OK’d Rio Rancho High School senior Alea Stevenson as the district’s nominee for a New Mexico State School Board Association scholarship. (She is headed to Texas Tech University);

• Discussed video-taping and broadcasting board meetings, with the cost and other particulars to be studied by a committee;

• Agreed with Baker that turning the current Shining Stars Preschool campus over to the Rio Rancho charter school Sandoval Academy of Bilingual Education would not be prudent, in light of the sewage and flooding problems there.

The finance committee had a meeting last Wednesday. The school board has special meetings slated for June 3 and 10, with a workshop on June 10.

On Thursday, a special meeting was set for Tuesday at 9 a.m.; no agenda was available when that meeting was announced.