By Darrell Todd Maurina
Clovis schools Superinten-dent Neil Nuttall was pleased to learn Wednesday evening the district had succeeded in its Oct. 3 appeal of a decision to place Bella Vista Elementary on probation.
In a press release sent to media organizations, the New Mexico Public Education Department reported that seven schools from five districts whose administrators appealed their probationary ratings were granted upgrades. Interim Secretary of Education Alan Morgan said his department had approved a recommendation by the Educational Standards Commission to grant all seven appeals.
“That’s just wonderful,” Nuttall said upon learning of the decision. “I am encouraged that the material we presented to them highlighted the growth the children, parents and administration have made.”
Nuttall said the consequences for Bella Vista could have been difficult if the appeal hadn’t succeeded.
“We would have been required to provide transportation to students who wanted to travel to other schools, and more than any of that, the impact on the overall impressions and beliefs about that school would have sent a very negative message,” Nuttall said. “I’m really encouraged that the state was willing to review our information.”
The state press release said the seven schools were all close to meeting standards and the additional evidence of student achievement provided by the districts convinced the committee to make their positive recommendations.
The Associated Press reported New Mexico uses a four-tiered rating system of exemplary, exceeds standards, meets standards and probationary. Schools on probation for three or more years can be placed under corrective action, and could face being taken over by the state, becoming a charter school or changing how they are administered.
Nuttall said he was surprised to learn of the decision from the media rather than directly from the state.
“I surely would have felt differently if it had gone the other way,” Nuttall said. “I would have wanted to visit with my staff first and tell them the news, but in the direction that they are going I think (our staff) will be really encouraged when they read in the paper (today) that their efforts have been more accurately reflected.”
Valencia Elementary in Portales was the only other school in the region affected by the state decision. The remaining five schools were in Albuquerque, Deming, and Las Vegas, N.M.