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BPS lists 2014 legislative priorities

—Bernalillo Public Schools

Bernalillo Public Schools supports an accountability system that is fair and valid, recognizes children as more than a test score, and schools as more than just a grade. BPS requests that the legislature provide sufficient funding and support to all school districts in the state to maximize student outcomes

• Priority 1: funding

The legislature must meet its constitutional responsibility to sufficiently fund New Mexico’s public schools. BPS is opposed to any reduction in funding. In 2008 to 2009, the State Equalization Guarantee was $2.432 billion dollars. Since that time, public schools have experienced budget reductions on average by eight percent. The district requests that funding return to the 2008 to 2009 funding level. This will require an additional $142 million dollars. According to a Legislature’s Public Schools Funding Taskforce, this addition would still be $350 million dollars below constitutionally required sufficiency. The legislature must begin moving toward constitutionally-required sufficient funding for our schools.

BPS provided a two percent raise to all employees last year, however most employees did not realize an increase in take home pay due to increased health insurance rates. The district fully supports providing an annual cost of living raise to all public school employees. The New Mexico Public School Insurance Authority premium increases must be covered by the state.

• Priority 2: professional Development

BPS is in full support to appropriate funding for professional development for educators. The district, in partnership with the New Mexico Coalition of School Administrators, requests that fifty million dollars in additional funding be allocated to school districts to add two days of professional development for staff. As school districts transition to the mandated Common Core State Standards, and accompanying assessments these professional development days are necessary.

• Priority 3: early childhood education

BPS supports early childhood education. Children must have appropriate early childhood preschool experiences and parental support to prepare them for kindergarten. With over eighty percent of BPS students qualifying for free and reduced lunch, and many living in poverty, providing a pre-k education is not only morally sound, it is fundamental to the K-12 learning experience. With public schools facing heightened accountability requirements, pre-k has emerged as an important strategy to promote school readiness and close the achievement gaps for minority children. We continuously have a waiting list of children whose parents seek access to an early childhood program.

• Priority 4: literacy development

We support expansion and continuation of K-3 Plus for extended school year opportunities for our children and New Mexico Reads To Lead initiatives for assessing reading difficulties and teacher training. New Mexico is presently ranked forty-ninth in forth grade reading proficiency with eighty percent of forth grade students unable to demonstrate reading proficiency. Students who can’t read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma when compared to proficient readers.

• Priority 5: retirement

BPS believes that all education employees should be afforded the full benefits of retirement, without offsets for other pension plans. The district supports the consensus plan put forward by the Educational Retirement Board, which includes the legislature providing funds to hold those employees making less than twenty thousand dollars per year harmless from employee increases.

• Capital requests Priority 1: technology

We must increase bandwidth to the Internet for each school site and for the District overall. The requirement for all students to take the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) further hinders the district, as we do not presently have bandwidth capacity to assess all students. The district further needs additional hardware (computers and individual technology, such as ipads, tablets, etc.) in order to adequately administer the assessment. This technology would not only be used for testing students; it would be constantly integrated and used to enhance instruction at all levels. Finally, the expansion of wireless accessibility at all school sites is needed. $250,000 dollars of funding is requested.

• Capital requests Priority 2: safety and security

School Safety and Security is of the utmost importance to the School District. With the frequency of school violence increasing at an alarming rate, we must act with a sense of urgency to implement additional preventative measures and reduce our vulnerabilities. The district is in need of security cameras at nine school sites and a District School Resource Officer. In addition, the district requests funds to retrofit all campuses for only one access point to enter and exit. Funding requested: $250,000 dollars.

• Capital requests Priority 3: BHS auxiliary gymnasium

Bernalillo High School is the only AAAA school in the State that does not have an auxiliary gymnasium. Both winter and spring sports programs struggle to find adequate space for practice and competition. This is problematic, as our only existing facility must accommodate 18 teams. Unfortunately, some of the most talented athletes in the district are choosing to leave and attend school in neighboring districts with state-of-the-art athletic facilities that not only have auxiliary gymnasiums, but also new field houses, weight rooms, and athletic training rooms. The School District is bonded to capacity and currently does not have Bond or operational funds available to construct an auxiliary gymnasium. Funding requested: $2.5 million dollars.

Scouts ready for the Pinewood Derby

“Scouting turned a corner here in 2013,” says Cub Master David Gardner of Pack 708, who for has guided the pack through several lean years.  “Our pack grew tremendously enabling many more boys in Placitas and Bernalillo to enjoy the benefits of scouting.”

“The beginning of a new year means the Pinewood Derby,” says Snow Watson, mother of a scout and wife of an Eagle Scout, and president of the Coronado Optimist Club, which sponsors Pack 708.  Kits were distributed in December.  The races will be held the third Wednesday in January.

Leland Bowen again has stepped up to help the boys prepare their boxcars using his years of experience and well-equipped workshop.

January’s plans also include a walking tour of the historic sites in Bernalillo and increased recruiting efforts at Bernalillo Elementary School so even more boys can join in the fun and learning available by joining a pack.

The cub scouts ended the year serenading the residents of the Beehive nursing home in Rio Rancho where their songs brought holiday cheer. To further the holiday spirit, they sent coloring books and stuffed toys to the children residing at the UNM Hospital.

After winter break, scout meetings resume at Carroll Elementary on Wednesdays at 3 PM, and at Placitas Elementary School on Fridays also at 3 PM. To find out about the Pack’s next Planning Meeting and other Pack information, contact David Gardner, at 867-4689.

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