Public forum hinges on participation

By David Stevens: CNJ editor

The forum proposed to introduce Clovis schools’ superintendent candidates to the public remains in doubt. We’ll decide whether or not to host the event, along with radio station KTQM, on Monday.

It has been tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday at Clovis Community College’s Town Hall.

So far, only Andy Sweet has agreed to participate. Rhonda Seidenwurm of Las Cruces said she will participate if the other candidates will, but David Briseno said he will be out of town and Ladona Clayton said she will not participate because the forum is not part of the school board’s interview process.

“Unless the board schedules something that night, I will be out of pocket,” Clayton said.

The fifth candidate, Bill Reents of Tucumcari, said last week he would participate if his health would allow it, but on Friday he told a Quay County Sun reporter that he’s withdrawn from consideration for the job because of health concerns. Reents underwent foot surgery last week.

We will not host the forum if Sweet is the only participant. We will have it if Seidenwurm will attend. She works for Las Cruces’ public schools, but has been out of town the past few days and I haven’t been able to talk with her. She’s also a finalist for a superintendent’s job in Los Lunas, where she was scheduled to interview on Friday and Saturday, according to the Valencia County News-Bulletin.

It’s disappointing that the public has effectively been left out of this selection process for our school district’s most powerful position. The school board should have hosted a public forum or scheduled a meet-and-greet session between candidates and the public.

At the least, school officials should have offered more public support of the media’s planned forum. Instead, school officials notified all of the candidates that attendance at the media’s forum is not required by the school board. They made those calls before most of the candidates had even been invited to participate.

We thought Thursday was a good day for the forum because it’s the only day all of the candidates will be in town.

School board President Terry Martin said he’s supporting the media forum and, even if it doesn’t happen, he’s hoping to schedule a time for the public to meet all of the candidates.

But so far, all we hear are words, and time is running out — school officials have said they plan to pick a new superintendent by month’s end. Why hasn’t this board taken action to involve the public in this important decision?

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The Clovis News Journal’s daily comics pages will see some changes beginning next month.

We asked readers to help us with changes and more than 200 responded to surveys published in the paper. We also hosted two groups of readers who offered input on the funnies.

We’ll save the announcement for which comics are coming and going until May 1, but here’s a summary of our plans:
We’ll be dropping three comics (all ranked low in the reader surveys) and adding five new ones.

The history or horoscope feature that appears on the daily comics page now will have to be moved to another part of the paper to make room for the additional comics.

Sunday’s comics will not change since we purchase them as part of a group that includes about 100 other papers; a majority of papers must approve any changes in that section.

We know some readers will not be happy with the changes to our daily lineup — change is never easy — but we think a majority will welcome the fresh voices. We’ve tried to find a better mix that will continue to appeal to our more mature readers, while attracting a younger crowd.

Your feedback will be welcome.

David Stevens is editor for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. He can be contacted at 1-800-819-9925. His e-mail address is: david_stevens@link.freedom.com