Board meeting about school closures in November

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

Anticipating a large crowd, school board members voted Tuesday to hold two meetings next month in the Marshall Junior High auditorium.

The two November meetings will center on proposals to consolidate local elementary schools.

Clovis Municipal Schools Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm advised the school board to close Ranchvale Elementary School and merge Lincoln-Jackson Arts Academy with Bella Vista Elementary due to budget concerns.

The school board will listen to public comments on the proposals at 5:30 p.m., Nov. 1 in the Marshall Auditorium and will vote on the proposals at 5:30 p.m., Nov. 15, in the same location.

“Marshall auditorium should have enough seats for anyone who wants to come (to the meetings),” school board member Max Best said.

School board vice president Mark Lansford said he is sure the meetings will garner a lot of public input, and thus the board decided on a change of venue to accommodate the crowd. School administrators expect about 200 people to attend each meeting, according to Seidenwurm.

Administrators held two rounds of community discussions of the proposals in September and early October. School board members attended some of those meetings to gather public sentiment. Parents and teachers who attended the meetings at affected schools were generally unhappy with the proposals.

Seidenwurm said the board does not normally discuss agenda items a month ahead of time, but administrators and board members wanted to give the public ample notice of the meetings.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting:
• Food Service Director Judy Abernathy briefed school board members on changes to food service at Clovis schools. She said students have a wider array of menu items to chose from this year, and the department is combating obesity trends among students by offering healthier alternatives to previously offered snacks and foods. Abernathy also announced schools will participate in the School Lunch Celebration week from Monday to Oct. 21. There will be various activities at district schools for community members and parents to attend.

• The K-12 Physical Education curriculum is up for reviewal. A committee has been formed to assess the new curriculum. The board will vote on the curriculum on May 9. For a full timeline of the adoption process, visit the school administration building at 1009 Main St.

• Office renovations at Barry, Cameo and Sandia Elementary schools will be completed in four to six months by local company DavTek, Inc. The renovations will cost approximately $211,392. School administrator Gene Beiker said the renovations are needed at the schools because the offices are not accessible. He said windows will be added at the offices so visitors can be greeted more promptly. Furthermore, he said the renovations will allow employees to monitor traffic in hallways.

• The school approved school fund-raising requests. According to administration, the state awarded the district a Partnership in Character Counts grant for $16,500. The “Character Counts!” program is a nationwide initiative to improve morale and ethics in communities. The district is also seeking $2,500 in state funds to implement a steriod testing program.