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East task forces would field concerns

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By Mercy Lopez

Las Vegas City Schools board president Felix Alderete is proposing the formation of two task forces to deal with transportation and food service at the east side school district.

Alderete said the purpose of the task forces would be to address problems and to review policy pertaining to both departments. The district’s transportation and food service departments have come under fire from parents, students and a board member this school year, spurring negative publicity.

Parents and students last month went public with complaints about the quality of the food being served at school cafeterias. The district has since made changes in its food service programs and several of the district’s more vocal critics are now saying that the food being served has changed for the better.

Transportation issues have also vexed the district. Board member Ernest Salazar and some parents have complained about bus overcrowding and raised concerns about student safety. Earlier this week a school bus carrying elementary students to an out-of-state field trip lost the tread on one of its tires. The bus was on the interstate at the time, further raising concerns about student safety.

“During the next board meeting we will put before the (school) board the creation of these two task forces,” Alderete told the Optic. He said board member Salazar would chair the transportation task force while board member Gloria Lovato Pacheco would chair the nutrition task force. He said both chairs would select the members of their respective task forces.

“ I feel our board is committed to improving the food and transportation departments, with the emphasis of not just meeting the minimum standards but striving to exceed them,” Salazar said.  “Our community has been very vocal in their concerns with these departments, and it is my pledge to keep them in the spotlight until they improve. Our ultimate goal is to ensure the kids safety and well-being, and it will be my focus as long as I am on the board.”

Salazar said the task forces will be groups of people dedicated to creating an action plan.

As for the latest bus incident, Superintendent Sheryl McNellis-Martinez confirmed that a bus got a flat tire and lost some of its tread as a group of elementary students were headed to a pumpkin patch near Moriarty.

She said the tire had cleared a Public Education Department inspection. She said sometimes there are road hazards that lead to problems. “The tire gave out and the transportation department sent out a replacement bus immediately,” she said.

“The children went to the pumpkin patch and had a great time.”