School board postpones action on Broad Horizons

By Kevin Wilson

After a heartfelt delivery by Broad Horizons students, parents and an employer of former Broad Horizons students, Portales school board members postponed action for one month on moving the alternative educational center.
The school is currently located on 1034 Community Way, but Portales Municipal Schools does not hold a title to the land on which the school operates.
Owners of the area are moving forward with development of property for other usage. Also, reduction in enrollment over recent years — and a corresponding increase in cost per student — is forcing the board to look at relocation options.
Suggestions were made to board members in a memo from Superintendent Jim Holloway including:
• Stay in the current facility and attempt to purchase and/or renovate the current building,
• Move BHEC to Portales High School.
• Move BHEC to Lindsey Elementary.
• Move BHEC to Steiner Elementary.
Holloway recommended that BHEC be moved to PHS and operate as a school within a school. Students from Broad Horizons addressed the board and disagreed with the idea.
Most of the people who spoke said they enjoyed the education Broad Horizons offered because of its smaller class sizes and individual attention, and disliked PHS because social pressures can get in the way of academics.
Nathan Wood, a student at BHEC, said he was graduating this year and that would not have been a possibility at another school.
“We have no social classes at Broad — we’re all friends,” Wood said. “That’s what happens at PHS, and that’s why people get in trouble there.”
Some students spoke of how being at PHS helped them fall into the wrong crowd, and they said that moving BHEC to the PHS campus would reverse the positive impact being away from the high school has had.
Holloway responded to the criticisms of the high school.
“That has not gone unnoticed,” Holloway said. “Mr. (PHS Principal Melvin) Nusser has staff hard at work to change some of the things you talked about tonight.”
The board also heard a statement from Portales National Bank President David Stone, who hired a pair of Broad Horizons graduates and said “they were as good as we’ve ever hired, and we’ve hired college graduates.”
Stone said that the two employees surprised him with their intelligence and joked that they have worked well at the “big, intimidating, cold, impersonal bank” that Stone runs.
“I had the feeling that if I can do it, it was good enough for everybody,” Stone said of his education many years ago at PHS. “I think that we have a need for an alternative high school, one I didn’t understand.”
The next time that action could be taken would be at the March 14 board meeting.
In other business at the meeting:
• Members approved the canvassing of the Feb. 1 school board elections.
• Members approved a joint powers agreement between the state’s Human Services Department and the schools for a Medicaid school-based services program.
• The board said farewell to Steve Davis, who did not run for re-election in District 3. He will be replaced by Alan Garrett.
“I hope Dr. Garrett has as good of an experience as I had,” Davis said. “He will not find people more dedicated to a school system or good solid principles.”