Voters guide

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School district elections for Socorro and Catron counties are Feb. 5. All the Socorro and Magdalena open school board positions are contested races, but the Catron County board positions are uncontested.
Socorro schools and Catron County also have general obligation bond and two mill levy questions on the ballots.
Candidate questionnaires are printed as they are received and no editorial corrections are made to the text. Candidates are responsible for their own answers.

Polling places in Socorro County
Districts 1 to 4 can vote at either the Socorro Schools Administration Building, 700 Franklin Street in Socorro or the Socorro County Annex at 198 Neel Street in Socorro.
District 5, Precincts 19, 20 and 21 vote at the Lemitar Fire Department
District 6, Precincts 22 and 11 vote at the San Antonio Fire Department.
Polling locations in Magdalena

Positions 1 and 2, Precincts 13 and 14, vote at the Fine Arts Center in Magdalena.
Positions 1 and 2, Precinct 15, votes at the Alamo ANSB Wellness Building in Alamo.
Polling places in Catron County

Independent School District 1
Precinct 1, Reserve Community Center
Precinct 3, Glenwood Community Center
Precinct 4, Aragon Fire Department
Precinct 6, Luna Community Center

Independent School District 2
Precinct 2A, Quemado Community Center
Precinct 2B, EBA Coyote Fire Department
Precinct 5A, Datil Fire Department
Precinct 5B, Pie Town Community Center
Precinct 5C, Horse Mountain Fire Department
Precinct 56, Fence Lake Community Center

Socorro Consolidated Schools board election, Feb. 5

Candidate questionnaire responses: Position 4:

Daniel “James” Chavez
Age: 41
Occupation: Electrical Journeyman/Lineman
Highest level of education and where: 12+ Socorro High School, College courses at New Mexico State and New Mexico Tech.
Have you ever been arrested or convicted of DWI or felony? No
Have you ever filed for bankruptcy? No

What factored into your decision to run for school board? The first time I decided to run for school board was because I felt that it was time for me to make a difference in the future of our child. I had coached and worked with children in the community for many years; and felt I could make a difference in the educating our children. I am running for re-election because I have started many projects that are in the works and I need to see them through.

What do you think you can do as a school board member to improve education for Socorro children? As a school board member I am able to be the voice for many community members, as well as staff, and I can share concerns with the state legislators who impact the funding for school districts. I have visited many of our local schools, on several occasions to get ideas and concerns from staff on how to improve our district in the best interest of the students. I have improved the relationships amongst the city, and county with the schools. I have the ability and knowledge of procedures for lobbying in Santa Fe for more money.

Why do you think more and more students are dropping out at the high school level? What can be done about it? High school students face many obstacles daily. Several are faced with choices that are placed upon them from their peers; some are pressures from life in general. For many students, a traditional education is stressful and discouraging; we need to provide them with vocational training. Since being on the School board we have created the Extended Learning Center, to provide a different learning environment for those students. We, as a board, and a community need to place a high value on public education. We need to speak to the students and encourage them to go back to school and attend daily. They need to realize the importance of education for their future.

If funding for public education is reduced, what program or programs would you fight to protect from budget cuts? What program or programs would be the first you would cut? I would try to not to cut any educational programs and find the funding within the budget. We have improved the budget and are in the process of building our reserve fund.

What is the biggest challenge teachers face and what could you do as a board member to help teachers overcome that challenge? Teachers need more time to teach. They are required to test often and loose valuable time with students. Our teachers are very dedicated and go above what is required of them; they deserve to be compensated for hard work. Teachers need to know they are appreciated.

 

Linda L. Perdue
Age: 62
Occupation: Retired Educator
Education: Masters of Science Teaching–New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a DWI felony? No
Have you ever filed for bankruptcy? No

What factored into your decision to run for school board? I have spent my entire career in education with the Socorro Consolidated Schools District and was proud to have done so. During that time I was made to feel empowered, essential and worthwhile. My supervisors gave me the confidence to succeed at my position and always provided support when needed. Now it is my turn to give back to the district through service as a school board member. Additionally, I see many teachers who are disheartened, and my goal is to help improve morale and raise loyalty to the district.

What do you think you can do as a school board member to improve education for Socorro schools students? As a school board member, I can offer my years of experience and provide the educational background that can help in the decision making process. Socorro’s children deserve the highest quality education, and I am prepared to deal directly with issues preventing our students’ success. I understand the pressures teachers feel on a daily basis and would love the opportunity to ease some of those stresses through open conversations and willingness to listen and address issues that hinder progress.

Why do you think more and more students are dropping out at the high school level? What can be done about it? I think many students are dropping out of high school due to a lack of diversity in programs, economic reasons and personal issues. As a district, we must at least try to meet the needs of all students. We need more vocational trainings such as the auto program, more counseling for those students facing personal dilemmas such as pregnancy, bullying, lack of parental support and learning difficulties.
I would like to see a stronger bond between our high school and businesses in the area where students who must work can be given opportunities to help manage the classroom as well as the work environment successfully. We have to recognize the differences in all students and try diligently to meet their individual needs.

If funding for public education is reduced, what program or programs would you fight to protect from budget cuts? What program or programs would be the first you would cut? The budget is a major concern for districts across the United States, and there seems to be little relief on the horizon. As a board member, I would definitely fight to protect the Pre-K Program. If we want our children to be successful, we must begin with a firm foundation. I would also like to protect the Title I Program. I have known many, many students who have benefited from getting extra help in reading and math through the federally funded Title I Program. I also believe that extra-curricular activities are an integral component of the educational process and as a board member; I would do my best to see that these types of programs are not cut. No board member wants to see any program cuts from the district. My feeling is that we need to look intelligently at every resource available and begin to whittle away that which does not benefit the majority of the district’s students.

What is the biggest challenge teachers face and what could you do as a school board member to help teachers overcome that challenge?
The biggest challenge teachers face today is lack of time and support. Teachers are overwhelmed by paperwork, preparation, trainings, implementation of programs and meetings. Teachers want to feel empowered, important and valued. I see too many teachers ready to give up and go on to some other career path due to these factors.
As a board member, one of my primary goals would be to improve the morale of our teachers through recognition and acknowledgement. Teachers need to be given the utmost respect for taking on the challenge of educating our children and made to feel appreciated by administrators and board members throughout the district. Personally, I would be willing to communicate with any teacher needing a little extra boost and give my time to help in any way possible. We cannot afford to let good teachers leave the profession.

 

Candidate questionnaire responses: Position 5:

Juan “JC” C. Trujillo
Age: 28
Occupation: IT Officer at First State Bank
Highest level of education and where: SHS 2003 Graduate. MCSE, CCNA, COBIT Certified Information Security Manager
Have you ever been arrested or convicted of DWI or felony? No
Have you ever filed for bankruptcy? No

What factored into your decision to run for school board? I have two children that attend Parkview Elementary. Our teachers and students need some one that is willing to stand up and work for their best interest. With strong support from the top, teachers will have the tools and support to provide a high quality education.

What do you think you can do as a school board member to improve education for Socorro’s children? With my background in technology, my new ideas and energy, and my analytical mind, I will work well on a team. A strong and sound budget is needed to support our schools. For the 2012-2013 school year the SCS budget is $12.46 million, of this, $11.48 million is employee salaries. This only leaves $980,000 for expenses such as utility services, internet access, computers, software, new textbooks, mandatory testing and any unforeseen expenses. A solid strategic plan will allow us to go search for additional grants and funding to support additional resources. With my strong background in technology, I will bring much needed experience to develop a strong technology plan in order to apply for additional grants and funding. With a strong technology plan that supports the curriculum, we will be able to direct technology spending directly to the classroom. Entities such as the City, County and NM Tech are great assets that we must have a good working relationship to share resources.

Why do you think more and more students are dropping out at the high school level? What can be done about it? Dropping out of high school is not an option. The average New Mexico high school dropout earns an average annual income of $11,426. Along with attractive extra curricular activities, more counseling and social services programs will help students deal with life situations and focus on school. We need to continue to focus on rewarding students on their success rather than direct attention towards negative behavior. We need to continue and expand vocational training and certifications to high school students, which will also help students whether they are going to continue their education or go straight into the workforce.

If funding for public education is reduced, what program or programs would you fight to protect from budget cuts? What program or programs would be the first you would cut? A school district must continue to support its primary mission of educating our students. This mission requires many resources, from a safe and welcoming environment to quality teachers and administrators. Funding for public education is primarily funded by the State, however additional grants and funding are available from other sources as well.  Maintaining strong working relationships with the communities of Socorro, San Antonio, Luis Lopez, Lemitar, Polvedera and San Acacia will be important. As parents, we want nothing more than the best for our children. As I have stated before, every program plays an important role. As a school board member, I will fight to ensure that we not only continue to support these programs, but will advocate that we make more opportunities available.

What is the biggest challenge teachers face and what could you do as a school board member to help teachers overcome that challenge? Most teachers would agree that increased parental involvement is a challenge. In today’s society, this becomes difficult to achieve. Many households have both parents working and in some instances working more than one job. Increased access to their child’s progress at school can be achieved by requiring that student grades, lesson plans, class lectures and homework assignments be made available online through a parent portal. Through this portal, parents can also have the ability to communicate with teachers and support staff to assist them in becoming more involved.

 

Pauline Jaramillo
Age: 51
Occupation:  Business Woman, Jaramillo’s Plumbing Heating and Air Conditioning and  Owner of Curves for Women.
Highest Education:  Socorro High School Graduate, 100 plus hours of NM School Board Association, Leadership Training and 75 plus credit hours through the NM State University.
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a DWI or felony?  No
Have you ever filed bankruptcy?  No

What factors into your decision to run for school board? Being of service to my community in which I live in is a strong motivation factor.  I also have a strong  desire to encourage a more transparent decision making process.  I hope to build stronger ties with the city, county, and NM Tech.  I want to be a channel for the concerns and interests of teachers and parents to the administration. My goal remains to improve the quality of education for the children of my community.  Four generations of my family have benefited from the education received in the Socorro Schools.  I have and will continue my commitment, dedication and energy to helping students and parents in building a solid foundation for Student Success.  No matter how good our school system is, we are compelled to Move Forward in building a better tomorrow for all our children.

What do you think you can do as a school board member to improve education for Socorro schools/students?
1)  Allocate resources such as time, money and personnel and adjust practices accordingly to fit the needs of our school district;  2)   Focus on student achievement by setting policies and resources to promote achievement for all students;  3)  Increase accountability by routinely and regularly measuring and reporting the return on investment of the education dollars we spend;  and, 4) Engage the community I serve by finding ways to institutionalize parent involvement in providing policy-making input.

Why do you think more and more students are dropping out at the high school level? What can be done about it?
There are many reasons why students might drop out including serious deficits in learning skills such as reading and math, lack of personal interests in subjects covered in school or little excitement about school learning. During the course of our last administration, the drop out rate in our school district rose from 1.7% (2007-08) to 8.9% (2010-11) according to the latest statistic provided by the NMPED.  This concerns me deeply! Research shows the dropout rate is the result of student, family, and school factors that collectively disengage students from formal education. These are the areas where we have to focus on re-engaging students with learning.
1.) Invest in early childhood education. Continue funding our Pre-K program:
2.) Pinpoint at-risk students and provide intervention immediately;
Build and support programs transitioning into middle school and high school;
3.) Support a strong curriculum with a career-learning component for all students.

If funding for public education is reduced, what program(s) would you fight to protect from budget cuts?  What program(s) would you cut? There is no question that Reading and Math programs are needs to keep in K-12.  In order to meet state standards, the demands of a changing economy, and our children’s needs we must remain focused and increase our support for Reading and Math.  I will also continue to work hard to keep Career and Technical Education at our Secondary Level, as well as college and career awareness and readiness at all levels.
Cutting programs is the last thing that is desired.  Careful planning and working diligently with our Superintendent, Administration and fellow board members will enable us to collectively plan to consolidate and strengthen programs rather than make cuts that could negatively impact student success.

What is the biggest challenge teachers face and what could you do as a school member to help teachers overcome that challenge?
All teachers could benefit from additional time and professional development.  We live in an increasingly changing world, and in order to address the needs students face, our teachers should be given the tools necessary to meet those needs.  As a school board member, I support time for professional collaboration, training for Common Core and data-driven instruction, and celebration of the many victories that happen every day in Socorro classrooms.

Magdalena Schools board election, Feb. 5

Candidate questionnaire responses: Position 1:

Barbara Gordon
Age: 52
Occupation: Guidance Counselor
Highest Level of Education and where: MA-Guidance & Counseling New Mexico Highlands University
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a DWI or felony: NO
Have you ever filed for bankruptcy:  NO

What factored into your decision to run for school board? I’ve been an educator for 29 years and education, all facets of it, are of interest to me. Students have, and always will be, my main priorty.
What do you think you can do as a school board member to improve education for students that attend Magdalena School District: As a school board member, together with other members of the board, policies can be written to provide the best educational opportunities for each child. Budget appropriations can be put into place that best use our financial resources.

Why do you think more and more students are dropping out at the high school level? What can be done about it? There are many reasons why a student may choose to drop out of school. If a child, for one reason or another, is not adequately prepared for challenging high school curriculum, they may feel a need to leave school rather than face failure. All students learn in different ways and at different times.  My experience has proven that opportunities for students to have hands-on learning experiences have been proven to help students be more engaged in school. After-school tutorial programs are also very successful in bridging the gap and providing a feeling of success for students. Providing a caring, nurturing, non-threatening, and safe learning environment increases the completion rate of all children.

If funding for public education is reduced, what program or programs would you fight to protect from budget cuts? What programs would be the first you would cut? In our troubled economy, we struggle to provide and keep proven programs. As a district, we have worked to keep all essential programs running with fidelity. I believe that quality staff professional development is an area that must continue as it is important for implementing and continuing  programs that have been proven successful. Recruiting and maintaining highly qualified staff is very important as well.

What is the biggest challenge teachers face and what could you do as a school board member to help teachers overcome that challenge? Money is always an issue. Because of budget cuts, classes are larger and more is required of the classroom teachers. We are asking teachers to do much more, with less. Teaching staff (all school staff) have not seen a pay raise in several years while insurance and social security costs continue to rise. The New Mexico School Boards Association, of which I currently serve as the Region IV Vice President and Board of Directors, works closely with our legislators, the Secretary of Education, and the Governor to push for legislation that allows for teacher raises, funding state and federal educational mandates, and smaller classroom focus groups to address the individual needs of their students.

Nancy Jaramillo
Age: 61
Occupation: Retired Elementary Teacher
I am now Director of  the Alberta House Pre-school in Socorro.
Highest level of education and where: I hold a BA in Elementary Education from Western New Mexico University in Silver City. I have 51 hours above my BA, in bilingual/bicultural education from NMSU. I also attended two summer Reading and Writing workshops at Columbia Teachers College in New York City.
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a DWI or felony? No
Have you ever filed for bankruptcy?  No

What factored into your decision to run for school board?  After my retirement in May of 2012 it quickly became clear to me that I was not finished with my work in education. I truly loved my job and the students in Magdalena. I know most of the staff and parents, and have always had a good working relationship with them. I know how the school is run, and I understand the budget process. I believe my educational experience will be an asset to the board.

What do you think you can do as a school board member to improve education for Magdalena’s children?  Those who know me know that I am not afraid to “tell it as it is”. As a board member I will speak for the students, parents, teachers and staff. I will not shy away from the hard decisions, but I will also stand for those who are working hard to make Magdalena Schools better.  As a member of the board I will work with the State Department of Education to improve communication and address concerns. I will also meet with Alamo school board members to improve the working relationship between the two schools.

Why do you think more and more students are dropping out at the high school level? What can be done about it?  Many students do not see the value in school. When you are a teen your mind is not on the future, it is on the next ball game or Friday night date.  We need to make school relevant by adding vocational programs such as the Auto-tech program that has been so successful. Magdalena has a Friday program for rockets and science that keeps kids voluntarily in the classroom. We need to support the teachers and programs that excite the students into learning. Building a partnership with local businesses to train the workers of the future would also be one of my goals.

If funding for public education is reduced, what program or programs would you fight to protect from budget cuts? What program or programs would be the first you would cut?  First and foremost, funding that goes into the classroom, for core coarse-work must be maintained. We would also need to review all programs that support the core, for educational and cost effectiveness. In other words I would save programs from the core out. I would also review programs for student interest. If the students are not going to participate in a program, or the parents do not support a program, why keep it?

What is the biggest challenge teachers face and what could you do as a school board member to help teachers overcome that challenge? Teachers are being asked to spend teaching time on tasks that do not meet student needs. Some of these tasks are excessive and repetitive testing, data entry into programs that one teacher expressed “this does nothing for my students or me as a teacher.” Often outside programs say, “Let’s put that in the school and have the teacher teach it.”    Teachers are being held accountable for teaching the core subjects. It is important to allow them the time and support to accomplish this valuable task.

 

Candidate questionnaire responses: Position 2:

Marva L. Brunson
El Defensor Chieftain questionnaire response:
I have over 35 years experience in education with 27 of those in the Magdalena School District.  I retired from the District in 2002. During my career, I served as an administrator, teacher (mid-school, high school, and college levels), coach, as-well-as baseball, softball, basketball, and (once) football officiating.  Currently, I hold a Bachelor of Science Degree with a major in biology (BS + 207) and am completing my MST at New Mexico Tech and a criminology degree from ASU.  In addition, I have experience with various youth programs, government, personnel management, budgets, policy development, and community relation.
All three of my children graduated from Magdalena, and they have been very successful.  Magdalena schools provided the foundation for that success.  Now, I have grandchildren enrolling, and I am worried…worried for all the children in the District.  In the last 10 years, scores have fallen, quality staff has/is rapidly departing, vacancies are not being readily filled, class size is increasing with less personnel available to them, some textbooks have not been updated, money is poorly prioritized (I do not believe that sending an employee to a golf tournament in Arizona or a conference in Florida while programs are being cut shows good fiscal management).  These funds must be rerouted in order to maintain our current educational programs.  Also, there is great concern by a large number of parents that students are not being treated equally in activity involvement and/or disciplinary situations.  I cannot turn my head and pretend everything is good – it is not.
It is extremely difficult to spend the majority of my adult life helping build a program to assure a child’s future success only to watch it decay so rapidly.  The Board seldom questions or double checks what it hears, virtually always votes “yes” without debate, for all intent and purpose it has eliminated community involvement, rarely addresses parent concerns, and even discourages Board members having contact with staff/community.
The security and safety of our children doesn’t seem to be a concern either.  Five month ago, Gail Armstrong resigned from the Board for personal reasons, and I was appointed to her seat.  In my first meeting (and every meeting since then), I have pointed out many educational issues that need to be addressed as-well-as several safety issues that needed to be fixed.  Last week – Five months later! -  a fire hydrant (1 of 3 for the school) was finally dug out of the asphalt so hoses could be attached if needed.  Another hydrant is still fenced off, the drainage trench on school property by the pre-school area is still accessible to small children, security lights for the main parking area are still out, and the list goes on and on – five month later.  This “foot dragging”, in my opinion, has to stop.  Also, employees have not had a raise in 4-5 years.  Promised stipends have either been cut in half or withheld entirely.  As vacancies occur, more and more work, without compensation, has been placed on those remaining.  The learning environment has certainly been less than ideal.
The Board needs to become “community-friendly” again, assure equality for all students, practice good fiscal responsibility by using money wisely, reestablish proven programs, quit making excuses and create/fix/maintain a safe and secure educational environment, reward quality work, keep promises, and quickly, prudently fill vacancies with quality personnel.  If we do all these things and manage our funding well, stop “freebies”, improve the learning environment, and concentrate on what is truly important we have a good chance to keep our program intact.  I believe that doing this will be reflected in improved scores and lower drop-out rates, stronger District-Community bonds, and – above all else – validate that, “Students are our first priority!”

Gail Armstrong
Age: 46
Occupation: Homemaker
Highest level of education and where: 2 years of college
Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a DWI felony? No
Have you ever filed for bankruptcy? No

What factored into your decision to run for school board?
I have always been an advocate for all children and the Magdalena School District. I enjoy working with all the people involved with the school system and I’m very passionate about our students.

What do you think you can do as a school board member to improve education for Magdalena schools students?
I feel that I would be the right person to continue to stand up for our youth in these trying times for everyone. I will put honesty and fairness first, and do the right things for the right reasons. These kids are our future and deserve the best education possible.
Teachers are one of the most important stabilizers in our children’s lives and I will help in supporting them to the best of my ability.

Why do you think more and more students are dropping out at the high school level? What can be done about it?
I believe the system gives up on children to soon. Kids are now being taught to test instead we need to be teaching to transform. Educators are genuinely trying to help young people out, but sometimes they’re forced to live by the standards of the test versus living by the standards of supporting our children’s development.

If funding for public education is reduced, what program or programs would you fight to protect from budget cuts? What program or programs would be the first you would cut?
That’s a tough question. Of course we would like to see more money for the schools. If we have to cut I would say in the book adoption area, utilizing online and maybe schools working together on a pass it on basis. I would also fight to give teachers raises and I would fight for reading and hands on programs.

What is the biggest challenge teachers face and what could you do as a school board member to help teachers overcome that challenge?
Parental involvement: Phone free to call and remind parents or functions, and asking for suggestions from parents about issues that arise.

Support: Alamo/Magdalena Kids are moving to a new level and with recognition from our legislature we can insure great success. I will attend legislative sessions, and fight for the help that our Alamo/Magdalena children need. I will continually learn about all avenues available for funding and support.

 

Catron County 2013 School Election, Feb. 5

Although there are eight positions open for school board elections in Catron County, none of the positions are contested. Running in those positions in District 1 are: Position 1, Samuel Nicolds; Position 2, Russell Laney; Position 3, Sharon Armijo; Position 4, Carl G. Livingston; and Position 5, Roberts Ricks. Running in District 2 are: Position 3, Denny Carver; Position 4, Elena Farr; Position 5, Marilyn A. Bunney.

Candidate questionnaire responses: District 2, Position 5:

Marilyn Bunney
Age: 68
Occupation: Retired Secretary
Highest level of education and where: University of Arizona–Tucson
Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a DWI felony? No
Have you ever filed for bankruptcy? No

What factored into your decision to run for school board?
I was Quemado School Secretary for 30 years. After retiring, I want to stay involved with the students and serve the school in any way I can.

What do you think you can do as a school board member to improve education for Catron County’s children?
Since I am already aware of the problems small schools face I will do everything in my power to keep educations standards high for Quemado schools.

Why do you think more and more students are dropping out at the high school level? What can be done about it?
Actually Quemado has a very low drop out rate because of personal attention to each student.

If funding for public education is reduced, what program or programs would you fight to protect from budget cuts? What program or programs would be the first you would cut? Fight to keep student teacher ratio low–we are already “bare bones” and don’t offer any frivolous programs.

What is the biggest challenge teachers face and what could you do as a school board member to help teachers overcome that challenge? State requirements are sometimes overwhelming. The Legislature/Governor Public Education Dept. etc. need to allow local Boards & administrators more authority instead of dictating what we must do

District 2, Position 4:

Elena M. Farr
Age: 48
Occupation: Homemaker, rancher, depends on what day it is
Highest level of education and where: bachelor of animal and range science from NMSU
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a DWI or felony? Not yet
Have you ever filed for bankruptcy? No

What factored into your decision to run for school board? My main concern is for keeping our school district a vital part of our community.

What do you think you can do as a school board member to improve education for Catron County’s children? We will use our ever dwindling resources to ensure our children have a comfortable safe learning environment.

Why do you think more and more students are dropping out at the high school level? What can be done about it? I think some students are in school with different goals other than college and our current system is geared by law toward college bound students. We need different “tracks” for those who are focusing on vocational careers and those who would continue on into college.

If funding for public education is reduced, what program or programs would you fight to protect  from budget cuts? What program or programs would be the first you would cut? We have no  superfluous programs I feel that each one is essential to our kids education whether it be hot     breakfast or reading coaches.

What is the biggest challenge teachers face and what could you do as a school board member to help teachers overcome that challenge? Lack of parental involvement is the biggest challenge that teachers face. If we as school board members in any way could influence parents and guardians to ensure that their students get adequate sleep, nutrition and study time I think that would help the teachers overcome that challenge.