Superintendent says he’s pleased with what he sees in district

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Clovis Municipal Schools Superintendent Terry Myers said the district is working better by working systemically.

Liliana Castillo

It’s been more than a month since Superintendent Terry Myers took the helm at Clovis Municipal Schools and he said he likes what he’s seen.

Myers, 54, took the job Aug. 1 after holding the position of superintendent in Mount Pleasant, Texas. Mount Pleasant Independent School District serves 5,500 students, about 3,000 less than Clovis, but Myers said the jump in quantity isn’t affecting him much.

“Mount Pleasant had 10 school sites, we have 19,” he said. “But the job is the same. Getting around to all of the schools has been more of a challenge.”

Myers said he can be found at a school most mornings, greeting children and parents as they start their day.

“We want to make sure the community knows we are very user friendly,” he said.

In the classroom, Myers said he is seeing the district’s motto of “Every child, every time” coming to life.

“Teachers are focused. We are starting as a district to think systemically,” he said. “Each school has the same instructional focuses and programs.”

Myers said working systemically makes it easier for teachers to adjust to what is good for the individual child. In that way, Myers said the district is working to improve Adequate Yearly Progress scores.

AYP is primarily a measure of year-to-year student achievement on the state assessment in reading and math as part of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Board of Education President Mark Lansford said the board is interested in seeing AYP scores improve.

“Just as important as AYP scores is how well our students are able to perform beyond graduation,” he said. “I don’t think AYP scores tell the whole story. By and large, we are putting out a great product.”

Myers said he is also consistently monitoring the $80 million worth of construction the district will be conducting over the next three years.

“Having just passed a bond, I’m am making sure we are doing what we say with the new bond funding so that the children are the beneficiaries of good buildings to learn in,” he said.

Voters approved a $16 million bond issue on Aug. 31. The money raised by the bond will be used to upgrade technology and facilities district-wide, to pay for the district’s 20 percent match on a 900-student middle school and a 20 percent match on a new building for Lockwood Elementary School.

The remaining 80 percent of both projects will be paid by the New Mexico Public School Facilities Authority.

The district is planning to renovate, add onto buildings and build more buildings due to growth in student population.

The district calculates growth projections by birth rates, roll-over numbers and troop movement to Cannon Air Force Base. The district has calculated its student population will grow by about 800 students by 2013.

Myers said he is monitoring the construction process on a daily basis and is constant communication with Deputy Superintendent of Operations Joel Shirley, whose department oversees construction in the district.

Myers said he is also working to maintain an open and positive relationship with the board.

“The board has taken some heat over the last year concerning the bond and hiring a new superintendent,” he said. “I think they’re weary. But we’re going to have a great relationship.”

Myers said it is important to keep lines of communication open between the superintendent and the board because the board members are representatives from the community.

“They represent the various districts within the district and people come to them with great ideas so the superintendent hears what the community wants,” Myers said.

He said it is important for adults in the community to convey to students that education is important.

“I always tell people, it’s cool to be a nerd,” he laughed. “It’s cool to be a great student and a great kid. If we communicate that, they’ll get the message.”

Myers said he is urging residents to talk to their legislators about not cutting funding from the schools.

“Cutting education funds is not the same as cutting other funding,” he said. “We’re making long lasting cuts that will affect our students. The more we cut, the more it is going to affect the quality of education we can provide.”

Lansford said the district is doing everything it can to not cut staff.

“That’s very important,” he said. “Keeping people employed is critical to the success of the student. Start cutting staff and the student will suffer.”

Lansford said Myers is doing well.

“I see good things in our future. We have more students coming in and we have to be prepared,” he said. “He’s qualified, energetic and ready to make that happen. I think we’re off to a good start.”

Lansford said Myers’ experience as a teacher, coach and principal helps him be more understanding and empathetic of the day-to-day operations of the district.

“I think he has a good perspective on the staff and what they’re trying to accomplish,” Lansford said. “His communications with the staff have been very well received.”

Lansford said employee morale has improved since Myers took over.

“That’s important because of why we’re here. Higher staff morale translates into higher student morale a lot of times and the education of the students is number one,” he said.