The Socorro Consolidated school board convened their first regular meeting on Monday with eager anticipation for the year ahead. Board President David Hicks called the meeting to order and welcomed everyone back.

Among the topics discussed were the readiness of facilities, transportation and staff. New athletic director Kirsten Dow was welcomed with applause, and the board heard about an opportunity to participate in a statewide development project.

David Chavez of Cooperative Education Services, a nonprofit organization that supports education through procurement, consulting and leadership development, presented a program that will bring together eight to 12 districts across New Mexico. This cohort will undergo assessments and audits in order to address the gaps in each district. A multi-year plan would then be developed, unique to each district, that would work to bridge those gaps. This group of districts will also meet periodically for collaboration and leadership training.

The goal of this program is to raise each district’s performance to the 50%ile, a marked improvement for many districts in New Mexico.

The discussion and questions from the board probed into the sustainability of the funding and other concerns. Hicks asked whether this program would add more testing for students, and Rep. Tara Jaramillo wanted to know if it meant more time in the teachers’ days—the answers were no.

The funding of this program will come from grants and other sources through CES, and will represent no appreciable expenditure for Socorro.

Ron Hendrix, school superintendent, remarked that CES’ program would help the district put in place systems that would work for the long-term, well beyond the terms of current board members and administration.

The CES proposal was met with favor after discussion. The board strongly encouraged Hendrix to pursue the opportunity and then to place an action item on the agenda at a future meeting.

In other business, the board heard reports from various departments about the readiness of facilities, transportation, and staffing.

Although more than 20 positions remain open, a new athletic director has been hired. In addition to the new athletic director, four new teachers are in the process of pre-employment screening and are expected to start in the next few days.

The transportation department will service 14 routes every day. Five of the route buses have air conditioning, and any new bus purchased will come with air conditioning.

Retrofitting some of the older buses was attempted, but no vendors were found to do the work. Every bus will have bottled water available, and the windows in the unairconditioned buses will be open for ventilation.

Danny Hicks, transportation director, assured the board that it does not get that hot. Some members of the board volunteered to ride the buses before school starts to gain firsthand knowledge of the conditions for students.

Facilities will be ready for students, with some repairs needed to four AC units.

A new part-time position was approved – an e-sports coach will be hired to restart that program.

The next regular school board meeting will be August 14, 5:30 p.m. at the district’s administration building, 700 Franklin.