Charter school bond decided

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Parents and supporters from Cottonwood Valley Charter School filled the room Monday evening for the board of education meeting of Socorro Consolidated Schools.

The group was there to persuade the board members to reconsider their plans regarding the allocation of bond monies for school facilities improvements within the district. CVCS had budgeted $500,000 of these bond funds to supplement $1.3 million in funds from other sources for upgrading and expanding their facilities to accommodate their student population, academic and other needs.

The funds had been approved and committed by the school board, but there was a misunderstanding as to how the funds would be allocated — in one lump sum or in allocations over a five-year period.

CVCS facilities committee member Delilah Walsh presented the concerns and requests of the school.

“We have a room full of people here to support our school and our kids — they are not here to try to overwhelm you,” Walsh said, addressing the board. “We understand and appreciate the school board’s need to meet the needs of the entire district, but we are ready to build now.”

“I understood that we committed to $100,000 per year over five years,” said board president Ann Shiells, seeking clarification. “I never understood it to be $500,000 in one lump sum.”

There was discussion about how to provide the charter school with what it needs to accomplish its goals, while also not putting the school district in a bind with regard to their other facilities improvement goals over the next five to 10 years.

“It is true that some of the other facilities improvements are not scheduled to begin for a couple of years,” said superintendent Randall Earwood, “but we must start planning and setting aside funds now in order to make those improvements possible and on schedule.”

Walsh discussed some of the specific needs of the charter school, including replacing “portables” — portable classrooms — with permanent modular buildings.

“We have a short window of time, because we do not have the space to move students to another area while we are building,” Walsh said.

There was discussion about moving some portable classrooms that are not in use at other schools to CVCS to provide space they need during the transition. Shiells asked whether what the charter school needs now is the actual funds, or a commitment of the funds over a specific time frame, in order to begin their project. CVCS officials agreed it was the commitment of funds that was necessary now, but they would need the full funding prior to the five-year period the board was planning for the full allocation.

After discussion, an agreement was reached to allocate the $500,000 in bond monies to the charter school over a two-year period — half in each year. This will allow the charter school to begin construction on their new buildings as scheduled in the fall of 2013, while allowing the school district to retain some of the bond funds to use as needed. The board unanimously approved this decision.

The school board also honored special guests at the meeting. Retiring school teachers and other personnel were acknowledged and presented with awards. A reception was given in their honor. In addition, five Young Authors Poetry Contest awardees were recognized by the board, and each read their poem for the audience. Awardees ranged in age groups from elementary to high school. It was noted that CVCS students who had participated in the poetry contest were recognized at a separate meeting of the charter school’s governing council. Walsh suggested they might also be included in recognition in future years.

The school board passed their 2013-2014 budget with a projected deficit at approximately half what it was last year. In order to accomplish this, the positions of some retiring personnel will not be filled, and attendance goals will be set, among other things.

 

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