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Trustee: Back college president

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By David Giuliani

Ambrose Castellano, chairman of the Luna Community College Board of Trustees, said last week that his colleagues need to show their support for the school’s interim president, Sigfredo Maestas.

As such, he said he called for the board to meet at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at its campus meeting room, in part, to address a proposed agreement with a consultant that failed to pass at a meeting last week because the trustees deadlocked.

Maestas had proposed that the board approve an agreement with Krista Edmunds to review Luna’s salaries and recommend changes in pay that reflect the market. But three trustees voted against it.

Trustee Abelino Montoya said he wanted the consultant’s resum, saying he had asked Maestas for more information on the issue. Montoya, along with trustees Levi Alcon and Don Shaw, pushed to stop Maestas from hiring more people while he is still president.

Maestas, the longtime former president of Northern New Mexico Community College in Espaola, has expressed no interest in becoming Luna’s permanent leader. The board interviewed candidates for the position last week.

“He (Maestas) is moving the college in a very positive direction. We need to show our support. He’s a very competent and smart man. He’s done a lot of good things that haven’t been done in the past,” Castellano said.

He questioned why some board members would balk at Maestas’ taking action to hire a procurement officer, especially when the trustees approved the position a couple of months ago.

“The board was in agreement. As interim president, he (Maestas) runs the interim operations of the college,” Castellano said.

Montoya also praised Maestas, but he said the trustees have the duty to ask the tough questions for the benefit of the community.

“I support him. We all have different ideas about what we want, and I don’t agree with everything he’s done. But he’s done a good job,” Montoya said.

Montoya said he hadn’t been aware of the special board meeting for Wednesday until a reporter asked him about it last week.

“Sigfredo Maestas is well-respected in the education community in New Mexico. This is a business, and you can’t sit back and not ask questions,” Montoya said.

Maestas took Luna’s reins in the summer when its former interim president, Gilbert Sena, left suddenly after being placed on an undefined leave. The college recently paid Sena $5,000 for his legal bills in return for his not filing any claims against Luna. At the same time, the trustees approved a $30,000 contract for Sena to prepare an interim report to an accrediting association.

Maestas didn’t return a call for comment.