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RRPS board picks tentative calendars

The district’s music teachers, and Fine Arts Director Kurt Schmidt, gathered for a photo during a luncheon at the New Mexico Music Educators Association All-State Conference.
Courtesy photo

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Knowing there would be little chance that 100 percent of parents and educators would be happy with it, the Rio Rancho Public Schools Board of Education approved — tentatively, anyway — the calendar for the 2020-21 school year.

The draft comes in two forms. Superintendent Sue Cleveland said people should hold off on making vacation plans until the 2020 state legislature’s 30-day session ends next week, because lawmakers might approve an extended learning school calendar, which would add five days to the start and five more to the end of the school year.

As usual, the RRPS schedule for the upcoming school year coincides with that of Albuquerque Public Schools.

A rendering of the national anthem by a combination of Cleveland and Rio Rancho high school choir members helped begin the meeting.

Then, 80-plus All-State honorees of the New Mexico American Choral Directors Association, from CHS and RRHS, plus middle schools, were each introduced and went up front to be congratulated by the four present board members and Cleveland. Board secretary Noreen Scott was “there” by telephone.

(For a list of All-State music students, see page 6.)

Getting down to business, Facilities Executive Director Melanie Archibeque in her report had plenty of good news, including the efficient way the recent flooding at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary had been handled, with minimal long-term damage and new carpet installed.

Archibeque also said seven schools will receive new HVAC systems, starting with Rio Rancho Elementary in the summer. That was made possible after Rio Rancho voters approved the 2020 bonds, which allocated $43.5 million for improving the HVAC systems, in November.

Archibeque told about her plan to see her department take a proactive, rather than reactive, role in maintaining the district’s buildings, of which “half our buildings are 20 years (old) or more.”

Happy Miller, the executive director of research, assessment, data & accountability, told the board of recent changes and expected changes by New Mexico’s Public Education Department, which no longer will issue grades for schools. Instead, she said, school websites will have “dashboards,” where parents can find information on three categories: about the school, academic performance and its learning environment.

Other changes include testing of students and which tests are for which grades. Miller noted “significant changes” for the Class of 2022, today’s sophomores, including taking the PSAT twice. She cautioned the board that more changes should be expected.

“It’s hard to plan for an uncertain future,” Miller said.

Superintendent Sue Cleveland agreed with that assessment, saying, “With a new administration, everything gets recreated again.”

In other matters, the board:

• approved minutes from three previous meetings;

• approved the extension of an audit services contract;

• approved two E-Rate contracts, one for a cabling “refresh” at Rio Rancho and Mountain View middle schools, and a “switch-refresh” throughout the district. The E-Rate program provides federal reimbursement for much of the costs of IT work;

• approved a trip by board member Catherine Cullen to the National School Boards Association’s annual conference in April; and

• gave the mandatory “first reading” to the district’s 300 policy series (Community Relations), as the board hopes to revise and tweak, where necessary, its entire set of policies.

The board’s next meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. Feb. 24 at the district offices, 500 Laser Road.

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