Schools group seeking inclusion

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Upcoming board elections also on committee agenda

By Tom McDonald

With the West and East school board elections less than a month away — and early voting around the corner — members of the Community Committee for Better Schools met Monday to prepare for candidate forums in hopes of having a positive impact.

But that’s not all the committee wants to do.

The committee also seeks to have a say in who the next top administrator will be in the City Schools district. Members have been drafting a letter to East’s school board asking that one or more citizens be named to the search committee for a new superintendent.

“Our intent is to provide community involvement in this process and in no way to create an adversarial relationship with the board and its legal responsibility to make an appointment to this position,” a draft of the letter states. The letter also lays out requirements the group believes to be critical in the hiring process.

School board President Gabe Lucero said Tuesday morning that he’s open to the committee’s participation — along with any school board candidates who are interested.

However, to the dismay of committee members, a notice of the superintendent’s vacancy — which came open last month following Richard Romero’s resignation after a one-week suspension — has already been posted.

Felix Alderete, a committee member and Position 3 school board candidate, expressed concern that the school board is moving too fast. Lucero, however, said that with a 30-day posting requirement, the board decided at its last meeting to start the process by getting the position out there.

“Waiting just didn’t make sense,” Lucero said.

Other committee members were also critical of the district’s posting. Ricky Serna, the other committee member who’s running for a seat on the school board, in Position 5, said the qualifications in the district’s notice make an assistant principal eligible to apply for the district’s top appointment.

Lucero said the district has already responded to one of the committee’s concerns. One of the qualifications outlined in the posting states that a New Mexico administrator’s license is required, but that it was intended as a requirement for employment, not something that disqualifies job applicants, who can test for the license after applying. He said the language is being reworded to clarify that matter.

Lucero said the selection process for a new superintendent will likely take up to a month and a half to complete once the posting requirement is met, so there’s plenty of time for interested citizens to be involved in the process.

Also at its meeting Monday, the Better Schools committee made plans for candidate forums in each Las Vegas school district. The committee will sponsor the forums, along with the Las Vegas Optic.

Members agreed to hold the West forum on Tuesday, Jan. 18, and the East forum on Thursday, Jan. 20 — each from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The locations will be announced.

Candidates Alderete and Serna, to avoid conflicts of interest, left the meeting when the subject turned to the forums.

The school board election day is Feb. 1, while early voting starts on Friday, according to the county clerk’s office.