Clovis superintendent recommends not putting vocational bond on ballot

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

Clovis Schools Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm believes voters need more information before deciding whether to fund a vocational center for Clovis High School students.

School officials were considering asking voters to approve a $12.5 million school bond tax to build a Career and Technical Institute.

Seidenwurm said she made her decision to postpone putting the issue on the ballot based on comments from Clovis residents.

Plans called for the center to be located near the Clovis Community College campus and would allow CHS students to take vocational courses as electives while earning college credits.

Seidenwurm also cited a survey conducted last week in which 25 percent of Clovis Municipal Schools faculty said there isn’t enough information about the proposal to make an informed decision.

She said there have been informal discussions with community members about a Career and Technical Institute but there has been only one meeting to discuss it.

The plan called for a 20-year, 1.25 mil increase of the general obligation bond, which is about $33 on a $100,000 house.

The school board will ask voters to pass a $12 million general obligation bond in January that would fund maintenance and improvements to school buildings and grounds for the next four years.

The bond, which has been in place for 30 years school officials said, is set at 5 mils, which is $130 a year on a $100,000 house. The bond would also make Clovis Municipal Schools eligible for matching funds from the state for capital outlay projects.

Seidenwurm said after the general bond election, she will start a more aggressive informational campaign for Clovis community members.

“We really have nothing to lose by making sure we’ve made a good case to the community,” she said.

Board President Max Best said he agrees that school administrators need to take more time to educate the public before asking them to vote on increasing the school bond tax.

“I think it’s a lot to expect from us to put forth presentations on two different bond issues in a two-month period,” he said. “It gives us a chance to really define and fine-tune our presentation to the community in terms of the potential and possibilities of the Career and Technical Institute.”

In other business:
—Board members approved a trip to the State Capitol on Jan. 17-18 for 18 members of the Clovis High School Freshman Campus. The students will work as pages and tour the Capitol, also known as The Roundhouse.

—Freshman Campus Principal Diana Russell updated board members on the school’s progress in the third reporting period.

The number of combined D’s and F’s from ninth-grade students this year is 307, which is a decrease of about 400 from last year’s 713, according to Russell.

Freshman campus teacher Kym Cordova credits the improvement to the school’s more aggressive intervention process.

“When a kid hits a low C or hits a C and we know they can do better, we’ll intervene then, rather than wait until they have a D or an F,” she said.

Freshman campus teacher Twyla Coleman said the team concept, in which students are assigned to a set of five teachers, has made it hard to overlook some students’ lack of progress.

“There is no child that can fall through the cracks,” she said. “There aren’t any cracks any more.”