The Tucumcari Municipal School District Board voted Tuesday to make an exception in its policy against nepotism that would allow Superintendent Aaron McKinney’s daughter Misty McKinney to take a teaching job in the district, should she submit a successful application for such a position.
School board member Marion Payton said that the exception should be allowed because the Tucumcari district often has trouble finding qualified teachers willing to work in the district.
McKinney, Payton said, is set to graduate “at the top of her class” with an elementary education major, which would be ample qualification for an elementary teaching position in the Tucumcari system.
School board president Carlos Romero also supported the exception, even though he had asked at the board’s November meeting to take the exception to the nepotism rule off the agenda, which the board agreed to do. Romero said he needed more time to examine the issue but said he is now satisfied that the exception could be made.
Assistant Superintendent David Johnson said he would ensure that McKinney would not be involved in any hiring decision process for a job in which any relative of his would be a candidate. McKinney agreed he would take himself out of that decision process.
The board also approved rules against smoking for staff members, students and on school premises that apply the same prohibitions on e-cigarettes that apply to tobacco products.
Christina Fleming, representing the Tucumcari Education Association, a teacher’s advocate group affiliated with the National Education Association, asked the board to consider some matters when making decisions regarding teacher pay. These considerations, she said, have become more important as the state considers raises for education employees, among others during the New Mexico Legislature session that began Tuesday.
Fleming said the district should consider that a percentage pay increase brings more money to a high wage earner than a lower-paid employee, and that equitable income should be considered as well as flat percentages when figuring rewards for effective teachers and others.
The district, she said, should also work to lessen differences in how principals will evaluate teachers for raises by ensuring that criteria principals use are approved at the district level.
Since science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs have gained priority, she said, the education association encourages the district to consider awarding STEM teachers “as much retention pay as the state allows.”
Teachers in these areas, she said, are often tempted to leave education for more lucrative opportunities. Teachers in all areas, she said, should receive retention pay, which she said is another way of saying “appropriate pay.”