Year in review: New schools, controversy mark district’s year

File photo Clovis Municipal Schools brought two new schools online this year with the opening of Gattis Middle School and a new Lockwood Elementary School.

File photo
Clovis Municipal Schools brought two new schools online this year with the opening of Gattis Middle School and a new Lockwood Elementary School.

By Emily Crowe
CNJ staff writer
ecrowe@cnjonline.com

The opening of new Clovis schools, a new football stadium for Eastern New Mexico University and the passing of an advocate for public education in Clovis marked the year in education for 2013.

Here are five key things to remembers from the education beat 2013:

PED issues: Local schools have been battling with the New Mexico Public Education Department in recent years, and the issues came to a head this year for Clovis Municipal Schools.

From enacting a new teacher and principal evaluation system in the midst of understanding a new A-F school grading system to transitioning to common core instructional standards, teachers and administrators have had a hard time keeping up with all of the changes.

The latest blow came in November when Education Secretary-designee Hanna Skandera stated in a memo that effective immediately, no student would graduate unless they completed one credit of a traditional physical education class.

The move would cause nearly half of Clovis High School’s current senior class to be ineligible for graduation. Administrators sent a waiver to the PED, but are still waiting on state guidance on the issue.

Passing of Charles Guthals: Charles Guthals, a longtime member of the Clovis Municipal Schools Board of Education and the Clovis Community College Board of Trustees, died in April at age 76.

Guthals was described as a huge supporter of the college. Gayla Brumfield, who served on the board with him, said he helped the board and college get through tough times when Cannon Air Force Base was on the Base Realignment and Closure list.

CMS Superintendent Terry Myers said Guthals was not afraid to take an unpopular stance if it benefited students.

Guthals served on the Clovis board from 1969 to 1996, and returned to the board in 2011. He served on the CCC board since 2007.

New Clovis schools: Clovis Municipal Schools brought two new schools online this year with the opening of Gattis Middle School and a new Lockwood Elementary School.

Gattis Middle School’s 130,00 square-foot campus encompasses six interconnected buildings, and the entire project totaled $34 million. Students have access to two gymnasiums and a restaurant-style cafeteria, as well as new computers and science equipment.

The new Lockwood Elementary School also opened for the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year.

Next up, the district expects to complete a new James Bickley Elementary School by December 2014.

New football stadium for Eastern: In October, ENMU students overwhelmingly passed a proposal to use student fees to fund half of an $8 million multi-purpose football stadium on the college’s campus.

The new stadium will replace the 45-year-old outdated stadium at Blackwater Draw, and will cost full-time students $40 a semester for the next 30 years. Part-time students will pay $3.33 per credit hour.

ENMU will pay for $1 million of the project while the Portales school district will pay for another $1 million if their bond is passed by school district voters in February.

As of December, ENMU President Steven Gamble said the rest of the $2 million the university hopes to raise through a fundraising campaign.

Gamble said the university hopes to have the new stadium complete by the fall of 2015.

Graduation date controversy: Back in February, a Clovis High parent approached the CMS Board of Education about having the senior graduation date changed to accommodate students competing in state track, softball and tennis championships.

With the sports competitions affecting approximately 12 seniors out of nearly 500, the board voted 3-2 in favor of keeping the graduation date as it was.

After the vote, the board discussed ways of avoiding scheduling conflicts that involve critical school events such as graduation and exams close to spring break.