School board OKs further junior high research

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

School administrators were given permission to move forward with research on the reconfiguration of Clovis junior high schools Tuesday during a school board meeting.

Board members unanimously approved a motion that allows administrators to research the concept of moving ninth-graders into a ninth-grade center or the Clovis High School, and housing seventh- and eighth-graders in two junior high schools, with possibility of including sixth-graders in the future.

“We have to make this change. It’s critical,” School Board Vice President Max Best said.

Administrators and teachers will study and further formulate the concept of reconfiguration in coming months, Clovis Municipal Schools Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm said.

“The idea is not to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic,” Seidenwurm said.
“Teachers are saying — and rightfully so — they want it to be,” Seidenwurm emphasized, “different.”

Further details about the reconfiguration will be presented to board members at a later date, she said. Their approval of the concept is needed before any changes are implemented.

“We have a lot of homework to do,” Board President Mark Lansford said.

At this point, administrators have not made any recommendations on which schools would remain junior high schools and which school would become a ninth-grade center, Seidenwurm said.

She said the concept is part of a larger plan for the district. That plan includes the creation of a vocational technical high school, in partnership with Clovis Community College, in addition to the reconfiguration of junior high schools.

The superintendent predicts roughly 400 to 600 students would enroll in a vocational school. If so, more space would be available at the high school and ninth-graders would be able to be housed there, which school officials agree, is the most ideal spot for them. Sixth-graders could then be incorporated into junior high schools with seventh- and eighth-graders, creating space for growth at every elementary school in the district, Seidenwurm said.

Currently, sixth-graders are housed in elementaries and seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders are housed at three junior high schools: Gattis, Marshall and Yucca.
The junior high schools could be reconfigured within a year or two, Seidenwurm has said.

An advisory panel commissioned by the superintendent last spring recommended the junior high school changes.

Such changes, the panel concluded, would create a more appropriate academic and social atmosphere for seventh- through ninth-graders.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting:
• Lt. Col. John McLaurin, a new liaison for Clovis Schools and Cannon Air Force Base, was introduced.

• Cameo Elementary School was recognized for hosting the Curry County Wellness Council Back-to-School Health Fair.

• Contractors Kyle Snider and Robert Knowles were recognized for outstanding service.

• The board pledged support for a resolution supporting a stronger funding formula for schools. The resolution asks 50 percent of all new money available for appropriation in the 2007 New Mexico Legislature be dedicated to public education. The resolution is supported by a variety of educational associations, school officials said.

• The board pledged support for the No Child Left Behind Improvements Act of 2006. The resolution, distributed nationally, calls for amendments to NCLB and urges Clovis representatives to support amendments to it. Such amendments would change NCLB standards for special education students and English Language Learners, according to Seidenwurm.

• Administrators were given permission to pursue North Central Association Accreditation for Clovis High School. For unknown reasons, North Central Accreditation expired years ago at the school, Seidenwurm said. The state also accredits schools, but seeks to end its accreditation program, she said.

• A bid for the movement of portable classrooms was awarded to Bennett House Movers. Bennett is charging $650 for the movement of a double load.

• A bid for the Clovis High School Water Line Replacement was awarded to Newt & Butch’s Roofing and Sheet Metal Inc. for the base amount of $156,400 plus gross receipts taxes.

• A Lincoln-Jackson Family Center fund-raiser was approved.