Faculty, staff support reconfiguration

By Rhonda Seidenwurm: Guest columnist

On Tuesday our Board of Education will vote on a proposal to re-configure our junior high schools. The proposal is to create seventh- and eighth-grade middle schools at Marshall and Yucca junior highs and a Clovis High School Ninth Grade Center at Gattis.

We are moving the venue of the board meeting to Clovis High School’s Lecture Hall to accommodate all who wish to attend. The meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m.
It is difficult to find any real arguments against this change, so we are dealing with red herrings that people tend to insert into arguments when they have no real issues to present — or at least none they wish to name.

A prime example is the argument that this plan is on a fast track, and that we somehow have failed to take into account such issues as costs, staffing, and transportation. Nothing could be further from the truth.

While there is not room in this space to expound on these issues, they are well defined in a question/answer format on our Clovis Municipal Schools Web site: http://www.cms.k12.nm.us

Critics have also said we are trying to avoid dealing with Adequate Yearly Progress issues. That’s not true.

And they’ve said we have no real goals or objectives for this move and no long-range plan.

Again, please visit our Web site for these answers. Research on this proposal began in 2003 and it has evolved into a well-developed plan. On the Web site, we call it our long-range plan.

The most ludicrous of all the red herrings is that we haven’t done a psychological survey to determine how this move will affect our children who have to go into a new building.

In Clovis, children currently change buildings when moving from elementary school to junior high and from junior high to high school. In Portales, they change buildings virtually every year.

There is nothing in any research that I know about to indicate that either system is psychologically damaging to children.

The most wonderful piece of this proposed move is that our junior high teachers overwhelmingly support it. Taxpayers need to understand that what our teachers are requesting is more work and more responsibility. They are eager to take that on because they know how much more effectively they can teach our children in the proposed new setting.

When teachers get burned out it typically isn’t because they feel overworked but because they feel ineffective. They go into what is virtually a thankless business to make a difference for kids. Our staff members embrace this move because they know they will be more effective with the kids whose lives they touch every day.

In my 30 plus years as an educator, I’ve never been more proud to be associated with any group than with our junior high staff in this endeavor.

Rhonda Seidenwurm is superintendent of Clovis Municipal Schools. She can be contacted at 769-4300.