Quay educators speak at workshop
August 22, 2018
SANTA ROSA — Two Quay County educators made their voices heard Wednesday morning as the New Mexico Legislature’s Legislative Educational Study Committee (LESC) began a three-day workshop in Santa Rosa.
Bonnie Lightfoot, who is entering her second year as superintendent of House Municipal Schools, told the legislators how the House District used Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) grant funding to improve student performance in language arts and mathematics.
The district received the funds, she said, because its high school graduation rates have been low.
In the 2017-2018 school year, House schools had an enrollment of 75 students, according to New Mexico Public Education Department statistics.
House’s teaching staff consists of four elementary school teachers, seven junior-high and high-school instructors and three teachers in its alternative school, which serves surrounding districts, as well.
Alternative schools provide resources for high school students who do not perform well in classrooms.
In the 2017-2018 school year, House has showed the most improvement of all small districts in the state, 100 students or fewer, in language arts performance, with a 29.5 percent gain in scores on Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests, Lightfoot said.
The district placed sixth among small districts in improvement over four years, showing a 17.2 percent improvement, she said.
In mathematics, she noted, House Schools showed a 33.3 percent improvement, which ranks the district fourth in improvement rates among small districts, she said.
In 2017, she said, House Schools received dismal grades, with “C” the highest, on PED report cards.
Lightfoot said the district has used advice from the National Council of State Legislatures to guide improvement programs and has taken advantage of instructor coaching resources made available with CSI funding.
The district started a preschool program and received professional development enhancement for teachers, she said.
In addition, the district added a junior-high chapter of the Business Professionals Association, which recruits business-oriented students in junior-high and high schools, and noted student leadership advances in its Future Farmers of America and Family, Career and Community Leaders Association programs, including the state president of FCCLA.
Under questioning from LESC chairwoman Sen. Mimi Stewart, Lightfoot said the district did not participate in the state’s voluntary “K-3-Plus” program last year because it involved “too much red tape.”
K-3-Plus adds instruction days to the school year for elementary-grade students.
She called on legislators to allow districts more local control in how such programs are run.
John Groesbeck, Mesalands’ new president, joined the morning discussion to talk about dual-enrollment opportunities, which allow high-school students to earn college credit while still in high school.
Mesalands sponsors these opportunities at Tucumcari, Santa Rosa and Clayton school districts, among others.
Groesbeck also mentioned the college's involvement with adult basic education and college classes at Guadalupe County Correctional Facility in Santa Rosa, and the Northeast New Mexico Detention Facility in Clayton.