Magdalena School Board members recognized the girls’ and boys’ basketball teams Monday night at their regular board meeting.

“I’m super proud of our girls, it didn’t end the way we wanted it to, but I will never for the life of me ever say that Fort Sumner beat us,” Sara Sue Olney, girls’ head basketball coach, said. “We went from 12-15 to 22-8 this year, that’s a huge turnaround.”

Jory Mirabel said he was proud of how his team conducted themselves on and off the court.

“To have a group that’s been in The Pit five straight years is pretty impressive, I don’t know many groups that get to experience that and for me, it’s not necessarily the accolades that come with that, it’s the experience that you get to have together,” Jory Mirabal, boys’ head coach, said.

School Safety
Superintendent, Dr. Glenn Haven, said the Village of Magdalena hired a security guard through a law enforcement recruitment grant and that she is currently patrolling on school grounds.

Board members voted to start the process for the education technology bond which would provide up to $200,000 in vaping equipment and video surveillance without raising taxes. Backstrom explained that it would be an app-based program that would alert the administration of vaping.

Haven reported that he has been working with the equity council and they put together a report on some of the issues they identified with attendance with the intention of putting together an action plan next.
Haven said he had a meeting with representatives from the Navajo Nation in regards to concerns about student attendance, and they were supportive.

“They want to work with us and that was really good to hear, and they said they were going to start cracking down on students with chronic absenteeism,” Haven said. “One of them said her goal was to have 100% attendance, which is music to my ears, because it’s currently at 50%.”

The option of redistricting, which would prevent students from Alamo going back and forth between schools, was brought up by board member Stephen Kelby.
“What are the pros, what are the cons?” said Kelby.

“Attendance is an issue, but it’s not just from our students in Alamo,” said Rebecca Apachito, district counselor and test coordinator. “The attendance issue is with all our students, how do we address attendance with all our students?”

She said that redistricting could have a negative impact on the population of their school, which is already small.

Keri James reported that the top two students with the most absences were Caucasian and not from Alamo and that they have attendance issues with out of district students as well.

School Calendar
Administrators criticized the 180-day push coming in from the Public Education Department.

Keri James said that only a few schools that she identified could potentially qualify for the standards set by PED to be exempt from the 180-day requirement. She was concerned that students might leave Magdalena schools if they could transfer to nearby four-day schools.

Principal Chris Backstrom said that even if schools qualified this year or the next year, the requirements would be impossible to sustain noting that eventually the growth would have to be 100%.

“The running joke is why aren’t five days going to six days? Because our scores are the same if not better than theirs,” Backstrom said.

James said that in a five-day calendar, a school day would be 7:50 to 2:38 and teachers would not get more pay; however, “bus drivers and cafeteria will have to be paid more for the extra days.”

Extra expenses would include utilities and food costs. “There’s about to be a lot of hard questions and conversations about budget,” James said.

She broke down the proficiency from last year’s scores and said that the chances of Magdalena qualifying for the 180 exemption was almost impossible. The other problem was that all the schools would have to make that requirement because, logistically for Magdalena, they wouldn’t be able to run one school on a four day and another on a five day schedule.

“What they are doing to us, it really hurting our school district,” James said.

James clarified that the scores the PED look at for qualifying include all the special education students and she gave an example of six special ed students in one class.

“New Mexico always choses to pick the highest standards they can choose; we are already dealing with some of the socioeconomic issues here across the board and then you’re going to hold that group up to the higher standards than most other states and tell your teachers and your families that they are not good enough over and over again,” Jory Mirabal said. “They changed attendance to be more specific to the student, so they are individualizing attendance in favor of hammering us, but they refuse to individualize growth when it comes to actual learning,”

Haven said he was bothered by the tone of the memo from the PED’s secretary, Arsenio Romero, about the 180-days.

“We did the public hearing, and I went up there, I spoke, 200 other people spoke, only 1% was for the five day and he sits there and doesn’t make a decision and now he doesn’t make appearances,” Haven said.

James said she was frustrated because she was hoping that Romero would be at the upcoming budget meeting “but he’s not even going to be there to take our questions.”
In other business, Backstrom announced that the new bleachers wouldn’t be installed, and the gym wouldn’t be ready for graduation.

The date was moved to May 17th outside at 11 a.m. in hopes to avoid the wind.
Mirabal gave an update on powerlifting and esports and the board approved the first steps in planning a student trip to Peru in 2025.