LVCS board candidates questionnaire

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Editor’s note: With school board elections less than two weeks away it’s time to start brushing up on where candidates stand on the issues. The Optic submitted questionnaires to all school board candidates in San Miguel County. What follows are the responses from candidates running for a seat on the Las Vegas City Schools Board of Education. We’ll run responses from the other candidates in future editions of the Optic. Election Day is Feb. 5.

Position 1

Ernesto J. Salazar
Age: 42; born in Las Vegas, NM
Address, phone number(s) e-mail addresses: 817 Sperry Dr Las Vegas 87701, salazarlvcs@gmail.com, 505-920-3696

Graduate of Las Vegas Robertson High School 1988
Attended Eastern New Mexico University for 3 years worked towards a degree in Agricultural Business
Graduate of both the American Bankers Association National and Graduate Commercial Lending Schools at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas 2006. Title conferred of a Certified Lending Business Banker (CLBB).
Graduate of Western States School of Banking at New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM 2009
Over the last 25 years, I have attended and participated in many educational, business and leadership conferences/seminars, to include formal higher education. The major areas are: regulatory guidance, banking, financial planning, legal and parliamentary procedures and restaurant/food service. Since my appointment as board member, I have earned in excess of 20 hours of educational training from the NM School Board Association and was awarded the Association’s Exemplary Award at the December 2012 Winter Meeting.

Since August 2005, I have been employed at Community 1st Bank Las Vegas as the Executive Vice President and Chief Credit Officer. I serve as a member of the FNB Financial Corporation Board of Directors and the Community 1st Bank Las Vegas Board of Directors.
I have been in the financial services industry for over 20 years, serving in the operations, lending, investment, data processing and accounting departments.
Other experiences (military, volunteer, etc.):

My Current community service organizations I am involved with are as follows:
• Member Las Vegas City Schools Board of Education
• Member Las Vegas City Schools Audit Committee
• Member Luna Community College Foundation
• Member New Mexico Highlands University Foundation
• Chairman Immaculate Conception Parish Finance Committee
• Secretary San Miguel County Planning and Zoning Commission
• Secretary North Central New Mexico Economic Development District
• Member City of Las Vegas Finance Committee
• Member Stu Clark Tournament Committee
• Member Independent Community Bankers Association of New Mexico Education Committee
• Member RMA New Mexico Board of Directors
• Member New Mexico Highlands Athletics Club
• Official Public Address Announcer for both New Mexico Highlands and Robertson High School athletics
• Educational Fund Raising: As Chairman and under my leadership of the Luna CC Foundation, I was directly responsible for raising more than $450,000 to match the Title V Grant for student needs and scholarships.
My Past Community Involvement
• Softball coach for Las Vegas Little League
• Basketball coach for Las Vegas YABL
• 15 year member of Rotary International
•Main Street New Mexico
• City of Las Vegas Economic Development Committee
• Immaculate Conception Parish RCIA and Marriage Program Member

My wife of 19 years is Dyanne Chandler Salazar who is also a 1988 graduate of Las Vegas Robertson High School. My daughter, Rhiannon Marissa, is a 6th grade student athlete at Memorial Middle School and has been in the Las Vegas City School District since the 1st grade.
I am the son of J. Julian Salazar and the late Concha Crespin Salazar. I have two brothers, Martin X. Salazar and his wife Julie and Nickoli J. Salazar. My in-laws are Jim M. Chandler and Joselle De Marco Chandler.

Have you ever been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony? If so, what for? Please exclude traffic citations but include DWI charges and convictions.
No convictions of either

Have you ever been a plaintiff or defendant in a lawsuit against the school district you are seeking to represent? If so, what was the issue and the outcome?

Do you or any of your immediate family members currently have a lawsuit pending against the school district?

1. What’s your position on a four-day school week?

My position was recorded; I was opposed to the four-day school week. First, I heard of the four-day plan on April 1, 2012. It was presented to the board as a means to prepare educational staff through professional development for the incoming state mandates to implement the common core standards. I was open to the training as the implementation of the common core was going to be very cumbersome and the systemic risk to our students is eminent, but believed we could’ve found time other than Fridays. The Superintendent believed that there would not be sufficient opportunity to present them with the amount of training that was necessary. At no time during the initial meetings and discussions were the issues of financial or budgetary matters discussed. Many teachers had expressed that I should give it a chance because they felt it was in the best interest of the students. I expected the four-day plan was going to be studied and thought out over months, but it was basically fast-tracked and we were then told to balance the budget, we would have to go to the four-day schedule.

The following are some of the concerns I had:
• Not enough data showing an overwhelming positive success for a four-day schedule.
• No 21st Century program funding was in place to ensure after school assistance.
• No concrete plan with NMHU and the City of Las Vegas Recreation Center as originally presented.
• No specified Friday plan for tutoring and/or nurturing academic rigor for students that are in need.
• It is an economic burden on parents regarding child care on Fridays.
• The days are excessively long for students that depend on school transportation, especially students from the rural areas.
• It is an economic burden on many parents that depend on school lunches on Fridays.
• A scheduling burden for the Co-Curricular Activities Director for all sports and extra-curricular activities.
• Not enough gyms or lighted practice areas to allow for after-hours practices in the dark.
• Potential loss of K-8 grade students to other school districts due to some parents belief that four days doesn’t allow for a good foundation for their children.
The following are some of the pros:
• Some rural students work on family farms and ranches and are able to do so for a full day on Friday.
• High school students wanting employment are looked at more favorably because they can work a full day on Friday.
• Teachers have embraced the need to be trained adequately regarding the common core standards.

2. What’s your assessment of the job the current administration is doing?

I feel that all the Board members are working toward a common goal which is student success. However, there is a fine line with being able to get involved in the day-to-day operations that many in the public do not understand. New Mexico House Bill 212 precludes us from being involved with personnel other than the superintendent.
When appointed to the Board in September 2011, I was naïve in thinking that I could join the Board and change things that were inadequate. With my expertise in business and finance, I embraced the role I was assigned, finance and business. I would work to help get the audits and finances in line and work towards financial stability. While I have been on the board, I have seen that the board has had many issues they needed to resolve before moving on new issues.
I believe that the Board and Superintendent need to continue working towards solving all the pressing issues:
• Better professional development and effective training
• Increase resources, materials and supplies
• Coordinate better efforts to enhance academics
• Raise the standards for all to include the Board and Administration
• Develop better pay and/or incentives for staff
• Promote safety for all students, teachers, staff, parents and citizens
• At all times, the Board needs to have better and clearer knowledge of the current financial picture of the District to ensure that our Strategic Plan is implemented
• Listen to your employees. This will improve morale.

3. What can a school board do to increase its proficiency rates among students?

Clearly schools need to take steps to improve proficiency, but schools cannot do it alone. Parents, students and community members must take a part in preparing our youth. The board can provide support of requests for instructional materials and response to intervention programs. Evaluation of the effectiveness of current programs based on demonstrated proficiency and support of corrective action plans to improve programs is essential. Teachers and staff must be given enough support to make reforms if necessary in the classroom.
The board must support funding, lobbying, grant writing for special programs, meet with legislators and our Congressional Delegation.  
If necessary, improve curriculum, improve instructional materials, teacher preparation, meaningful and effective professional development, and more help in the classroom is important. Support of teaching assistants, decreasing class size, more special programs and services, tutoring, reading programs, summer programs, innovative week-end programs, use resources at LCC, NMHU, World College and Retired Educators.  (These things can help increase proficiency.)
Reading Proficiency is critical for academic success. Prior to 3rd grade it would be ideal if children learn to read — after 3rd grade it would be ideal if children could read to learn.
Early Childhood Education is critical and money needs to be channeled in for early childhood programs.
Schools need resources, parental help and early childhood education.
“Our children need to be supported so that they can flourish and be successful.” I will support all these areas to improve proficiency.

4. Should the state eliminate social promotion, the practice of passing a student to the next grade level even though their test scores indicate that they are not ready?

If students are passed through the system at a level that is not proficient they are being cheated academically. These become the students who lose faith in themselves and whose parents lose faith in the educational systems.  On the other side of the argument, it is imperative that schools have systems of intervention in place at different levels to ensure that our students are reading proficiently.  If students are assessed at different intervals during their educational journey they can be identified at an earlier age and interventions can be implemented to increase their proficiency levels.  Graduation requirements require students to show proficiency. When a student does not demonstrate proficiency, he/she will not receive a diploma. To correct an issue at this secondary level, students should be proficient at identified benchmarks and again be placed accordingly and interventions should be utilized as needed to advance these students and prepare them for the post-secondary setting.

5. What are your thoughts on the method used by the State Public Education Department in determining the grades assigned to each school? Is it fair?

There should be an accountability and measurement system in place. While there are disagreements about the method being utilized to measure schools, I believe that the change was necessary and forced schools and districts to evaluate many facets of education which impact a child's learning and ability to demonstrate proficiency. I believe the PED will continue to provide guidance and support in this transition from old evaluation systems to the current system. 

Students, parents, teachers, administrators, and community members from all areas state-wide must understand the grading process.  I believe that the PED needs to involve these entities to evaluate the process of grading schools.  The process needs to be reviewed annually for its effectiveness.

Sean Medrano
Age: 27
Address, phone number(s) e-mail addresses: 207 Chico Drive, Las Vegas, New Mexico, 426-7585, necontractors@yahoo.com

Completion of three years of college education, at New Mexico State University, New Mexico Highlands University and Luna Community College. Emphasis in forest and wildfire management. Acquired my contractor’s license in 2009 through the State of New Mexico.

Occupation: Self-employed
Owner and operator of NorthEastern Construction. Specializing in residential and commercial projects, along with forest management projects.

Other experiences (military, volunteer, etc.):
Volunteer on the New Mexico Farm Bureau Board. Volunteer on various coaching staffs for kids and student athletes. Wrote and completed federal grants for the improvement of forest lands. NM State Certified foster parent. Worked and volunteered as a wildland firefighter for the state on NM.

Letticia and our two daughters Tatiana and Solis.

Have you ever been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony? If so, what for? Please exclude traffic citations but include DWI charges and convictions.
No, I have never been convicted of any misdemeanors or felonies.

Have you ever been a plaintiff or defendant in a lawsuit against the school district you are seeking to represent? If so, what was the issue and the outcome? Do you or any of your immediate family members currently have a lawsuit pending against the school district?

1. What’s your position on a four-day school week?

My position is to listen to the issues and concerns that have been brought to my attention by my constituents during my campaign. My over-all assessment of the plan is that there are pro’s and con’s that need to be re-visited and re-evaluated. My understanding is that the plan was implemented for various reasons; some reasons include professional development for teachers in order to prepare them for the educational standards that will be required by the state department of education, student academic and school report card improvements, budget savings, and in addition to avoid layoffs. With the limited information that I have, it is hard to state my position in favor or against it without having the actual data to support such decision. I believe that the issue is a concern that needs addressing. If elected, my recommendation to the board of education would be to re-visit and to re-evaluate the plan, listen and address concerns voiced by teachers, students, parents and the taxpayer. Compile the necessary data and compare it side by side with the five day week vs. the four day week. This information is important in order to make a decision and to ensure that the objectives and goals of the four-day school week are actually being met and that the results are positive and not in fact hindering the educational process and the school budget.

2. What’s your assessment of the job, the current administration is doing?

From what I have seen and read in the newspaper, it appears that they are doing a good job. The present board gave the superintendent a vote of support and extended the superintendent’s contract until next year. As stated on my platform, if elected, I am ready to work with the current board. I will advocate for high standards of accountability in all areas of education from budgeting to academics. I will be an advocate for good relationships among administration, teachers, staff, students and parents. Change starts with the governing board providing support to teachers and administrators. I will not overstep my boundaries as a board member but I will expect high standards of accountability. Everyone in the organization is a valued member of the district and I will want for the entire organization to work together in the implementation and improvement of our educational system.

3. What can a school board do to increase its proficiency rates among students?

The school board needs to work closely with its superintendent and give direction to initiate a complete review of our strengths and weaknesses within each classroom, to see where we need to improve and how we are going to improve. We need to make sure that teachers and support staff have the support and materials that they need to teach and assist all students. The school board needs to work together and not against each other in meeting the educational goals and objectives of the district. In my opinion, if an issue is of concern, these issues need to follow a process so that they can be addressed and resolved professionally. There is no need to take actions without following the appropriate procedures. These types of actions only break down the system and create low morale for employees. As a board member, I will work to improve the system as a team. Negative communication and publicity only break down a system. Support and teamwork are what make a system work. Our community and our schools can no longer afford negative publicity, we are only hurting ourselves. We need to change our actions in promoting our community and schools in a positive way. Positive change brings positive results.

4. Should the state eliminate social promotion, the practice of passing a student to the next grade level even though their test scores indicate that they are not ready?

As a school district we need to explore the different avenues to assist all students in acquiring life skills. All individuals are an important part of our community. Eliminating social promotion is not the answer. We need to take a look at the various struggles that our children are facing in their life. I think that we need to provide auxiliary services that will help those students that are identified as struggling in their academics. Children nowadays relate well to new technology and maybe we need to explore the various technology resources that are available. Since everyone has different learning styles, maybe as a school district we need to explore the possibility of implementing other programs to meet the needs of those students, such programs may include vocational programs, mentorship programs, tutoring programs that can also be accessed through technology, etc.

5. What are your thoughts on the method used by the state Public Education Department in determining the grades assigned to each school? Is it fair?

After reading some of the information on grading, it appears that schools are held to accountability of all students’ performance. The system seems to take into consideration the population that it serves and the various factors that are associated with it. NM is adopting the Common Core State Standards and implementation is expected in 2015. Schools may be required to make some changes in order to implement new assessments that will be required. I am in favor of the method if it is going to benefit students and increase accountability of school districts. Like any new change, I am sure that the some areas of the system may need to be addressed. It is my understanding that this is one of the reasons why Las Vegas City Schools went into the four-day school week and that is to provide teachers with professional development in order to prepare them for the change that is upcoming and be prepared to meet the standards that are going to be required.

Position 2
Gabe V. Lucero
Did not respond to the Optic questionnaire. He is running unopposed for this position. He has served on the school board since 2009.

Position 5
Luis Ortiz
Age: 40
Address, phone number(s) e-mail addresses: 1102 8th Street, 425-6733, (505) 718-9839, drluisortiz@gmail.com

Dual Ph.D. in Management and International Business — UTPA
MBA Master of Business Administration— NMHU
BBA Bachelor of Business Administration — NMHU

Professor, consultant and owner of a small development company

Other experiences (military, volunteer, etc.):
See long resume at www.drluisortiz.com

Georgia Katherine Ortiz (wife and teacher at Los Niños Elementary)
Ethan Antonio (MMS 6th grade student)
Aaren Emilio (2nd Grade Spanish Immersion Program at Los Niños Elem.)
Izabella Yazmine (Pre-K )

Have you ever been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony? If so, what for? Please exclude traffic citations but include DWI charges and convictions.

Have you ever been a plaintiff or defendant in a lawsuit against the school district you are seeking to represent? If so, what was the issue and the outcome? Do you or any of your immediate family members currently have a lawsuit pending against the school district?

1. What’s your position on a four-day school week?

Caveat for all my answers: I hope and trust that none of my personal opinion will impact my wife (teacher) or children (students) at work or school (lol — I’m sure it won’t). It should be evaluated based on the annual national testing results in March. We must make sure that teacher and parents have input after this first year of the implementation of the four day week. Was the four-day week difficult on students, did it impact their quality of education, is it taking a toll on teachers/administrators who work in some cases from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. plus more grading and preparing at night; and does having half the town’s students on different schedules did it matter? Did the business community set up and have programs and internships for students on Fridays? Were cost savings truly realized or did teacher training use up resources that day?).
Personally, I can only speak for myself as a parent and in my family. My children (LVCS students) to me seem exhausted by Thursday, since we have sports and practices, school programs, and some family functions nearly every night during the week. We then get home late and stay up later doing a tremendous amount of homework. We don’t go to sleep until nearly midnight many days. As for teachers, I know what many of them tell me and I have seen my wife (2nd grade teacher) this year, in my opinion, working longer hours of at least 12-13 per day. Again, we must evaluate it and move forward together as a whole community. I know it is hard for many… I want to see the student test results first this year and compare them and listen to the community and then decide.

2. What’s your assessment of the job the current administration is doing?

It is only fair to give ourselves a below-average grade since our schools are currently under-performing according to the state A-F rating. While we all know that our school administration is working to make things better and that the ranking may or may not be fair, as a school board candidate, it is the board’s responsibility to ensure that our administration has the right focus in helping our schools to outperform the norm and the rest of the state region and nation.
This focus includes making sure that our teachers are well respected and recognized and that their input is valued and acknowledged. More than that, it is important to work diligently that as a board to ensure that we are putting the maximum amount of money into each classroom in the form of teacher aides, technology and the highest paid teachers in the state. While, I have spent my entire adult life here in Las Vegas (my children were all born here and we are heavily invested in this town), minus less the four years I left to get my Ph.D., it is worth noting that I attended public schools in Texico, NM (near Clovis), where we have the highest-paid teachers in the state and great student achievement, welcoming schools and high parental involvement. Having the highest paid teachers in the state or maybe the region will send the loudest signal to our great teachers and our students we are serious about their success and we demand nothing less from our children. It is like this the more invisible that the administration is for example no financial issues in the local paper and no bad news, there is, the better. Thus, the more visible the great things’ going on in our schools, K-12 the better it is for our students and community in putting student first in everything.

3. What can a school board do to increase its proficiency rates among students?

You know the interesting thing about having experienced NM’s highest paid teachers in Texico in those years is that I never thought for a second that I could not be successful in life, and not that my Ph.D. came easy, but the foundation laid at the public school by the highest paid teachers in school assured me that I would never stop learning and that I could achieve and become anything my hard work lead me to do. We should want the best for our entire community’s children. Look, if elected I am but one voice on a board of five (and a town of ten on two boards) and we must collectively decide what is best, but more than that what is right for our students, our teachers and our community. I am not speaking about the minor issues in schools; I am speaking about the major issues citywide and statewide and the national issues that are hindering us from accomplishing more. My committee to elect and I came up with the slogan “Enough… KIDS first”. What does it even mean to put K-12 students first? Well, here is what it meant to us (we hope you will agree):
• Local, State and Federal Money must get to the student’s classrooms (Technology - tablets/iPads, ebooks, teacher aides and high teacher salaries and incentives, awards and recognition for great performance for both teachers and students where many are rewarded not only a few. This will help them all to believe they can do it).
• With instructed parental/community involvement, National PTA and the National Watchdogs program for fathers - Students will be expected to excel and will be rewarded when they do.
• Ideas and creative implementable solutions to improve our schools with community workdays and major budget increases from many out-of-the-box angles that may hopefully double the current $27million budget in two years for our approx. 1,750 students.

4. Should the state eliminate social promotion, the practice of passing a student to the next grade level even though their test scores indicate that they are not ready?

Yes, but with this caveat (caution) understand that students learn differently. In fact, many dyslexic students that have a very hard time reading often become extremely successful because they use other strengths to not only survive, but thrive in our society. Audio books, hands-on learning and other learning styles fit these types of students best and they often learn skills that help them become entrepreneurs and great leaders in life or in business. We all must take responsibility for the unacceptable graduation rate of 50-60% statewide and we must as a community get involved and solve it. There are a lot of great things that charter and private schools are doing, for example, LCC and NMHU’s programs to transition students from high school into college or life’s profession. We must highlight opportunities and possibilities to both students and parents as they work to use their personality, ability and job-fit to contribute to society. In our lower grade this question becomes an issue of the special needs of our students and we must this part of our schools right, because this is an area where we as a district can easily be sued.
I know that I, with my experience as an expert witness and as a mediator can help us not only in setting policy to help us avoid getting sued on issues such as social promotion, but can also help to create stronger policy that will aid our administration and teachers to create and implement programs that will help parents of younger students to encourage a strong desire for them to want to learn to read and want to do well in school. Furthermore, we must do a better job of helping students understand why we are even in school in the first place; school will help them land or create a good job to help themselves and their family to do better with every generation.

5. What are your thoughts on the method used by the state Public Education Department in determining the grades assigned to each school? Is it fair?

Yes and No. Yes, we have to compare against others to know where we are at and how to get better, No in the sense that parental involvement is only 5 bonus points in this measure. It is shameful for us parents to know that many schools got less than 1.9 out of 5 points in this area, and in fact a little bit larger number would have made the difference between a C and a B school in at least one case. Understanding each area of this evaluation, whether fair or not will help our community as a whole to focus our efforts year round in helping our students, teachers and administrators to succeed. We all know that creative thinking challenges the status quo (we can do better) and that for every good idea there are 15 other reasons why this or that will not work. Our responsibility, as leaders of our community, is to define our own reality and create it now today for our students, not to blame others or each other as to why this or that can’t be done better or at least differently. Look, we know that nothing limits achievement more that small thinking, yet nothing expands possibilities like unleashed thinking outside our little box with the help of many in our town. As Sam Ewing, a former professional baseball player said, “Nothing is as embarrassing as watching someone (someone else) do something that you (I or we) said could not be done.” Time is short and we have but a little while, we must get the right thoughts, the right people, the right environment, at the right time, for the right reason for the right results (J. Maxwell) for our K-12 deserve nothing less from us and our entire community. Ken Blanchard has said, “None of us is as smart as all of us.” I humbly ask for your vote to simply be one of many that it will take to make our schools and community greater! Please vote early or on Feb. 5th. Thank you for your and your family’s consideration and support. May God truly bless you! Any questions, please call at (505) 425-6733.

Alexis Mamaux
Age: No response
Address, phone number(s) e-mail addresses:  512 Columbia Street, Las Vegas NM, 454-1676 (H); no cell, alexis.mamaux@uwc-usa.org and alexisuwcmail@gmail.com

• BA – Pennsylvania State University
• MPIA – University of Pittsburgh
• Teacher education program – New Mexico Highlands University
• Level 2 teacher; certified for social studies and modern languages

Occupation: History and Theory of Knowledge teacher at the United World College

Other experiences:
• Teacher trainer for the International Baccalaureate
• Online mentor for teachers in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme
• Author: IB 20th Century World History (2008); History of the Americas Course Companion (2011)
• President of New Mexico PEO Chapter AC
• Former president of New Mexico Model United Nations Association

Family: Mother of Connor Mamaux-Partridge, 7th grade student at Memorial Middle School

Have you ever been convicted of misdemeanor or felony?

Have you ever been a plaintiff or defendant in a lawsuit against the school district you are seeking to represent?

Do you or your immediate family members currently have a lawsuit pending against the school district?

1. What’s your position on the 4 day school week?

There should be a community-wide evaluation of its effectiveness.
An Optic article recently addressed the cost savings component; more focus needs to be placed on impact on students and teachers.
This is a decision that should not have been entered into lightly yet its implementation was rushed through without any real consideration of the effect it would have on the community. A 2012 vote in favor of a 4-day week beginning in August 2013 might have been better received as the community would have had time to grow accustomed to the idea and adjust or create programming for local youth. LCC and NMHU could have adjusted their schedules so that classes that Robertson students often take were available on Fridays.
In the classrooms the amount of content that can be covered during the school year is now limited. At MMS the teachers only have 4 days per week to cover the material they had 5 days to cover last year. The extra time went to an 8th class. This creates a stressful classroom situation for teachers and students alike.
 Problems have not disappeared after an adjustment phase: Children come home hungry and tired; in the discussion phase, mid-afternoon snacks were promised but have not been delivered with any consistency. If students are involved in after-school activities they have little play time. Childcare on Fridays is a challenge. While staff absenteeism may have declined in the district the effect on the wider Las Vegas community may be different.

2. What’s your assessment of the job the current administration is doing?

The Las Vegas City Schools is a district verging on failure that experiences difficulties in keeping its books balanced; the responsibility for these circumstances lay with the administration. Many of the issues have been inherited from previous administrations, meaning that the current administration has to fix problems they did not create.  
The administration is very supportive of programs that make the LVCS community unique, such as mariachi, and school board members are very approachable. It does its best with extremely limited funding options, and with an eye of not increasing property taxes in an economically depressed community.
However, to those outside of the administration the decision-making is unclear and little attempt had been made to follow up with questions that the community has about reasons for decisions made. Even unpopular decisions can be acceptable if those affected understand rationales and it is even better if the stakeholders are involved in the decision-making process.
Furthermore, the administration is ignoring the proverbial elephant in the room: both LVCS and WLV school boards need to have public discourse to increase coordination. Constituents are concerned about the issue of unification and it should be the mandate of the administration to spend more time on looking at how there could be constructive step forwards for the community. It would be much better to make the changes from within than have a decision imposed from above.

3. What can a school board do to increase its proficiency rates among students?

The most important thing that a school board can do is to appoint a superintendent who can best serve the community. The school board itself is not in the classroom nor is it responsible for hiring teachers – that is the domain of the superintendent.
Additionally, the school board could make policy decisions that are conducive to success. For example, it could consider a rearrangement of the school year. Schools have opted to break up the long summer holiday into smaller chunks throughout the year to prevent student and teacher burnout and allow for retention of contend-based material. This has been found to be especially helpful for low-income students.
In the current financial climate options are limited but priorities can be shifted to create a framework that will be more conducive to student success. Fostering the arts and physical fitness could result in better focus when students are in their academic classes without costing the district more money.
Students should be encouraged to walk or ride their bikes to school; this may actually decrease transportation costs. An occasional day of service for the entire district could allow students to beautify their neighborhoods, create outdoor murals and work with non-profits to gain a better understanding of how their classroom learning is practical. Some project-based learning that goes beyond elementary school could link the disciplines and increase the relevancy of all subjects. Once their education becomes relevant students become invested in their own education.

4. Should the state eliminate social promotion, the practice of passing a student to the next grade level even though their test scores indicate they are not ready?

No. There is an implication in the term “social promotion” that all students’ circumstances are the same. Decisions about promotion should be made in conjunction with feedback from a student’s teachers and parents/guardians. Readiness is not simply the result of a test score; readiness should also consider the maturity of a student and patterns of academic progress or lack thereof.

5. What are your thoughts on the method used by the state Public Education Department in determining the grades assigned to each school? Is it fair?

• All schools in the state are being evaluated with the same criteria that adjust for particular circumstances so it’s fair but perhaps the use of the grading system should be reconsidered.
In the LVCS 6 schools received a D and 2 – Los Niños and Paul D. Henry — received a C grade, which is not exactly a stellar performance. If you examine the performance in individual criteria, the results are more nuanced and can be used in determining policy. In some instances, results are troubling — Robertson High School received an F in college and career readiness. Given that this is the main objective in high school education, this should be examined deeply and changes made so that students are truly prepared for postsecondary life.
On the positive side, ECC, Legion Park, Los Niños, Paul D Henry and Sierra Vista received As and Mike Sena and MMS Bs in the opportunity to learn category, which shows that there are quality teachers in the schools engaging students in a variety of ways. Also, students at Los Niños were the most proficient and advanced in reading — this shows that the other schools in the district can learn from the methods of instruction being used in the immersion program. It also indicates that immersion should be an option available to students up to and including high school and that the schools might be well served to make bilingual certification — in any language — a requirement for new district teachers.

Carlos A. Perea
Did not respond to the Optic questionnaire. He is running for school board position 5. His address is listed at 826 5th Street in Las Vegas. He has run previously for City Council and school board unsuccessfully.