The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


Mentoring and parent involvement at charter school

Village Academy Charter School is preparing to launch a new mentorship program to be developed more fully this year. VACS is actively recruiting adult mentors to assist and guide students in their career or special-interest areas, such as dancing, music, art, and business. To serve as a qualified mentor, individuals are required to pass the standard background check. VACS mentors also will be invited to participate as guest speakers. At the end of each year, students will be expected to prepare a portfolio, as well as a presentation or performance for their parents, family, and members of the community that reflects their year of mentorship learning. The presentation is an opportunity for the entire school community to honor mentors who graciously have donated their time and expertise to inspire our students to excel.

Village Academy’s small class sizes and family-centered organization allows us to teach to the individual pace and needs of each student. Every Friday, VACS will conduct a lottery for students in grades six, seven, and eight who are interested in enrolling in the school. For more information, contact Pamela Engstrom, at 449-8113, and visit the VACS Web site,

Bond passage essential to Placitas Elementary School

The upcoming election, on February 6, will include two bond issues that will allow Placitas Elementary School finally to meet state adequacy standards. The passing of these bond questions, which will not increase taxes, is crucial to this community. For over fifteen years, PES has had three portables housing several classes and support staff facilities. The school, which consistently meets the state’s Adequate Yearly Progress Standards, has not been upgraded or had major improvements since 1976.

Of the 160 students currently enrolled in the school, forty-four attend classes in portable buildings. If the bond issue passes, it will generate $22 million in capital-improvement funding over four years for the Bernalillo Public School District. Of this total, Placitas Elementary is scheduled to receive $2.3 million, to be matched with 47 percent funding provided from the state through the Public Schools Facility Authority, for a total project cost of $4.3 million. The previous bond issue has funded the pre-construction work, including the architectural and engineering services, full abatement of asbestos from the school, and moving the current portable structures, which occurred during the recent school break and allows PES to undergo the major renovations planned soon after the bond election.

There will be a new road entrance to the school site further east of Calle Carbon on 165, creating a separate bus circulation route. Other site improvements will include removing all portables from the site and making the entire school one permanent building. Another area of major construction is the kitchen, which is drastically under code requirements and will be completely demolished and rebuilt. The existing building systems (HVAC, electrical, plumbing, etc) will all be updated in the renovation. At the new entrance to the wing will be administrative offices, including a nurse’s office, conference room, secretary station, and a principal’s office.

All community members can go out and make a difference. By voting for the bond issues on February 6, you will be providing Placitas with an adequate educational facility.

PES first graders help change the world through Read to Feed program

Students at Placitas Elementary School recently purchased special gifts for families around the world. Honeybees will increase fruit and vegetable yields, provide candle wax, and give honey to eat and sell. Tree seedlings will be planted for water retention in the soil, firewood, windbreaks, erosion control, food, building materials, and oxygen production. A flock of chicks will grow to become egg-laying hens, the extra eggs may be sold, and the hen droppings improve crops. Angora rabbits will be sheared every three months for a family to afford food, clothes, and school fees. Another family will receive a dairy goat for fresh milk to drink and sell.

After Betsy Bartels read Beatrice’s Goat to her first-grade students, they participated in the Read to Feed program of Heifer International. Students kept logs of their reading and asked family and neighbors to make a pledge in any amount for each book they read. When students returned their envelopes to class, they worked together to decide what gifts to purchase. Their teacher used math counters to symbolize the dollar amounts, and each student was given the opportunity to voice pros and cons on various gift ideas.

Bartels explained, “We had enough money to purchase a water buffalo that gives milk, pulls a plow, and has dung that is dried for fuel. However, a number of my students spoke with conviction about the ability to help more families with more gifts if we didn’t spend $250 on the purchase of one animal. They convinced the others to look at different options.”

The Placitas students learned about children who could not attend school because their families could not afford the uniforms, books, and fees.

Families that receive a gift from Heifer International are trained in animal care and earth-friendly farming practices. Most important to the Heifer International success is the practice of “passing on the gift.” Families who receive an animal give one or more of the animal’s offspring to another family in need. That family passes on the gift to another family, and the gifts of Placitas Elementary students multiply throughout different communities.

Founded in 1944, Heifer International is a humanitarian assistance organization that works to end world hunger and protect the earth. Through livestock, training and "passing on the gift," Heifer ( has helped seven million families in more than 125 countries improve their quality of life and move toward greater self-reliance. Heifer helps build strong communities because each project participant agrees to pass on the gift of animal offspring, training, or skills to another family in need.

Library questionnaire on its way to all Placitans

Please keep an eye out for a letter from the library in your mailbox in the next few weeks. Inside you will find a gold questionnaire about your wishes for the new library. As we move to the planning stages for the new building, your input is vital. The building committee wants to hear from you even if you don’t want a library or have never used one. This building can be serve us all in many exciting ways, but only if we have your participation. Since the library may not have all the funds to accomplish everything now, the planning committee needs to know your desires and priorities. So please, stop a moment and consider your dreams for the Placitas community, then fill out the questionnaire and feel free to add all the comments you wish. Don’t forget to mail it or drop it off at the library. Please also let us know your name and number if you would like to be included in further discussions of the new building plans. If you have questions or do not receive a questionnaire by the end of February, please call the library, at 867-3355.
January is also the time of our board elections. The 2007 Placitas Community Library Board is: Judy Labovitz—chair and capital campaign; Pam Buethe—vice-chair and friends; Judy Gajkowski—secretary and outreach; Susan Fullas—treasurer; Wayne Sandoval—lobbyist and Las Huertas Land Grant liaison; Gail DellaPelle—building and planning; Martin Bradshaw—grants; Anne Frost—library director. If you would like to be involved in any of these committees, please leave a message at the library and you will be contacted shortly. The library board has also created an advisory committee. These folks give generously of their time and expertise, and the board is very grateful to each of them. The advisory committee includes Jim Bryden, David Burlingame, Bill Sapien, and Pepi Strahl.

As always, the library board and volunteers are completely dependent on your generous donations for all our operating expenses. Since we are all volunteers, these costs are kept to a minimum but the rent, utilities, and supplies do mount up. We are happy to receive your book and cash donations all year round and are very grateful for your continued support.

Join us on Saturday, February 17, at the library for a Chinese/Lunar New Year celebration. From 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. we’ll have a children’s story time with fables from China and Korea and some great activities to celebrate the Year of the Pig. There will be fun decorations celebrating an ancient holiday. Fortune cookies will be available all day long, and you will even be able to have your name written in Korean characters.

Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays: 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
New Hours: Thursdays: 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

• Friday, February 2, at 9:30 a.m.: Children’s story time
• Monday, February 5, at 4:00 p.m.: Library Book Group will discuss Five Quarters of the Orange, by Joanne Harris. The book club meetings will be held at private homes due to the cool temperatures in the library. Please call for directions.
• Saturday, February 17, at 10:30 a.m.: Chinese/Lunar New Year Celebration
• Tuesday, February 20, at 3:00 p.m.: Spanish-English story time
• Monday, March 5, at 4:00 p.m.: Library Book Group—The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins




Ad Rates  Back Issues  Contact Us  Front Page  Up Front  Animal News   Around Town  Classifieds Calendar Community Bits  Community Center  Community Profile  Eco-Beat  Featured Artist  The Gauntlet  Community Links  Night Skies  My Wife and Times  Public Safety Sandoval Arts  Schoolbag  Time Off  Uncle Duffy   Word Around Town