Attendees: School town hall informative

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Portales High School Principal Melvin Nusser answers a question during Tuesday’s school town hall held at the base theater.

Liliana Castillo

Despite low attendance, town hall organizers and attendees found it to be helpful and informative.

The Airmen and Family Readiness Center hosted a school town hall meeting Tuesday. The meeting was an open forum for school-related issues and concerns to be addressed by school representatives and leaders in the surrounding area.

About 30 attended and asked questions ranging from sex education to parking lot security to a panel of about eight. The panel was made up of representatives from Clovis, Portales schools, Clovis Christian and Clovis Community College.

Each panelist gave a 10-minute speech and then the floor was opened for questions.

Discussion returned to the budget several times. A parent said she was impressed with her daughter’s experience at Ranchvale Elementary School but was concerned about what the growth meant for teacher-student ratios.

“Ratios are going up because state funding is drying up,” Clovis Municipal Schools Superintendent Terry Myers said. “We are trying to hold that line down as much as possible.”

Myers said the district re-evaluates average class sizes each week to adjust properly.

“We are at the point with budgets in education that there isn’t much fluff to cut anymore,” Portales High School Principal Melvin Nusser said. “If we make cuts at this point, you’re talking about (cutting) people.”

Another parent raised concerns about drugs at the high schools. Both Clovis and Portales schools randomly drug test 10 percent of the student population involved in extracurricular activities.

“I don’t believe we have a big drug problem in our schools,” Myers said.

When a parent asked how much growth the high school could take and when the district might look into building a second high school, the discussion returned to budgets.

“Building a new high school is now a $100 million project,” Myers said. “Rather than do that we moved the freshmen to the Freshman Academy. The high school can handle growth for another five years.”

Myers said districts are being as innovative as possible with money to keep districts running smoothly with current staffing.

Nusser said the meeting was informative.

“I thought the question and answer session was very beneficial,” he said. “In 10 minutes, I can say the things that are key to me but not to them.”

Nusser talked about the ability to work together.

“Communication is so vital, so key,” he said.

Dawn Whitson, a military spouse, said she was glad to have the opportunity to ask questions about the budget and growth.

“I wanted to ask my questions and listen for information maybe I didn’t think of,” she said. “It was very helpful. They should do this once a year if not more.”

Whitson said she wished more parents had attended.

Laura Serrano, the schools liaison for Cannon, said this was the third town hall of its kind and she hopes to continue holding them once each semester. Serrano also said she’d like to expand to have focus group session.

“I would have liked a bigger turnout,” she said. “But the interaction was very positive. Hopefully those who came will pass the work around.”