Meetings watch: Schools being prepared for merger

During the Portales Municipal Schools Board of Education meeting, board members:

• heard district Director of Maintenance Nat Gomez say his crews had finished moving supplies and playground equipment for the grade levels that are changing schools in the fall with the addition of the new Lindsey-Steiner Elementary School. Lindsey Elementary School is being demolished, and Steiner Elementary School is empty except for supplies in the multi-purpose room, he said.

Superintendent Randy Fowler said the district was working with contractors to allow teachers to get to their rooms in Lindsey-Steiner by Aug. 2.

• heard a report on Measures of Academic Progress short-cycle assessment scores from Assistant Superintendent Priscilla Hernandez.

The tests are given at the beginning of school, in the winter and at the end of the year. Kindergartners through 11th-graders test in reading, language arts and math, while third- through 11th-graders test in general science and science concepts.

Last year, Hernandez said, kindergarten through eighth grade made progress in reading, language arts and math. Ninth through 11th grades saw gains in math but declines in reading and language arts.

According to Hernandez’s data, general science scores improved through ninth grade, dropped for 10th grade and were about the same at the beginning and end of the year for 11th grade. For science concepts, third- through eighth-grade scores rose, while ninth- through 11th-grade scores declined.

Fourth grade saw significant gains in multiple areas, and kindergartners and first-graders exceeded the national reading score, Hernandez said.

She theorized the declines in progress in high school might come from the testing scenario, and said Portales High School has more students to test than other schools.

• approved next school year’s schedule of board meetings, in which the board meets on the second Monday of the month.

• heard that the district is having trouble finding speech language pathologists. Director of Special Students Services Jackie Burns said it is a struggle across the nation.

• voted to repay loans taken out while waiting for reimbursements from federal programs, as happens every year.

• awarded a bid of almost $3,700 for custodial and maintenance supplies to Empire Paper Company of Wichita Falls, Texas.

• discussed a proposed grand opening for Lindsey-Steiner and agreed with Fowler to schedule it for Aug. 16.

— Compiled by PNT Senior Writer Argen Duncan