Solution Sought For Intersection

With a unanimous vote August 9, Truth or Consequences (T-or-C) City Commissioners approved a resolution (No. O5 16/17) urging the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) to install a traffic light at the corner of New School Road and Date Street.
Introduced by commissioner Rolf Hechler, the measure responds to numerous complaints, which emphasize how the intersection serves a high volume of traffic and is the primary entry and egress point for students at nearby Hot Springs High School and T-or-C Middle School.

Schools Pause Pool Planning

In a two to one vote during their October 8 regular meeting, the Truth or Consequences (T-or-C) District School board opted to postpone further discussions with the city of T-or-C regarding a proposed swimming pool project.
Vice president Denise Barrera reported on preliminary meetings with city officials, which were initiated following a presentation offered to the board during their August 13 regular session. She explained that the city’s proposal was to join with the school district, and perhaps other area municipalities, in the development of a new swimming pool and recreation center project…

School! Just Days Away

It’s amazing how quickly the summer ended and the new school year is already beginning next week. Registration began this week. Many school officials implied registration went smoothly and that the students seemed refreshed and ready for the new school year to begin.
Grades 1 – 6 and grade 9 begin school Wednesday August 5. Grades 7 – 8 and grades 10 – 12, classes begin Thursday August 6. August 13 is the communities first School Board meeting.
Wandering through the different schools, it was clear crews were hard at work building new furniture for the libraries, floors were being cleaned and waxed everywhere, everyone was working hard to create a safe and comforting…

HSHS Envirothon Wins Third Championship

The local Envirothon team, “The Scat Cats,” won first place in the state competition held in Glorieta New Mexico this past weekend. They will represent the state of New Mexico at the National Competition in Springfield Missouri, July 27 through August 3.
This is Envirothon’s 28th year in existence, the eighth year for the New Mexico competition, and the third win for the team from Hot Springs High School…

School District Food Bank Helping

Late last year, members of the Truth or Consequences District School Board approved the initiation of a food bank program. The program is aimed at providing nutritional aid for families of elementary school students in need of assistance. February marked the initiative’s fifth full month of operation, and organizers are now looking to expand the program to include families of students attending T-or-C Middle School (TCMS).
District Director of Student Achievement, Dr. Robert Vise, who has been spearheading the effort, said the program operates through the Statewide Roadrunner Food Bank and is provided with sufficient commodities to assist fifty local families…

School Testing Poses Hurdles For Students

Among the agenda items addressed by members of the Truth or Consequences District School Board on January 15, was a brief review of recent revisions in the annual PARCC (the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) tests, which will soon be occupying the attention of area students.
Hot Springs High School teacher Jaylene McGregor said the revised tests were generally the same as standardized exams student’s encountered last year. She said this year’s program would include timed tests.
The timed format would undoubtedly add a level of stress to an already stressful experience, McGregor said. She went on to highlight additional details about the now fully computerized tests, which appeared to further complicate matters…

School Board Eyes Upgrades For TCMS

With construction of new classrooms and facilities at Truth or Consequences Elementary School (TCES) near completion, and students set to move in this week, district school board members briefly focused attention on planned upgrades for T-or-C Middle School (TCMS) during their regular meeting August 14. As part of her report, district Business Manager Adriana Wolf told board members that an initial estimate for a partial replacement of the TCMS roof anticipated a total project cost of approximately $800,000, with the district’s portion of the bill coming in at just over $555,000. Middle school officials relayed how rainy days now require staff to respond with mops and strategically placed buckets, and said the roof repairs were needed. District Construction Supervisor Kenny Griffis confirmed the point and said he considered the TCMS roof to be the district’s next priority. Griffis explained how the type of roofing utilized at TCMS made patchwork difficult and not very effective. He reminded board members of a plan to replace current swamp coolers with surplus air conditioning units from the TCES project and said the installation of a new roof should coincide with this initiative…


Back To The Books

Students attending T-or-C Middle School dutifully filed from their busses toward their first period classrooms, fresh into the new school year Thursday morning, August 14. The Middle School actually began classes on Tuesday morning and neighboring students at Hot Springs High School started their fall semester on Wednesday. Lingering construction at T-or-C Elementary prompted a delay for the community’s younger students. First through Fifth graders will begin attending classes at both T-or-C Elementary and Sierra Elementary Complex Thursday, August 21, with Kindergarten and Pre-Kindergarten classes set to begin on August 25 and 27 respectively…

Construction Delays Start Of School

We are excited and looking forward to the opening of the new Truth or Consequences Elementary School building, slated to be ready in early August. Due to the time required to move into the building, and in order to prepare for a quality start to the 2014-2015 school year, there is a need to delay the start of pre-kindergarten through fifth grades. Sixth through twelfth grade will begin as scheduled, with sixth and ninth graders starting on August 12 and the remaining grades on August 13. First through fifth grade students will commence school on Thursday, August 21 at 8:10 a.m. The first day of Kindergarten will be Monday, August 25, and Pre-Kindergarten will begin on Wednesday, August 27. Bus and student drop-off and pick-up will take place in front of the new building. Please be mindful of those directing traffic as the school year begins. The campus websites can be referred to for updated information including the Student Handbook…


Schools Contract For Canine Sweeps

In a unanimous vote, members of the T-or-C District School Board approved a contract with Albuquerque based InterQuest Detection Canines during their regular meeting held on March 13. This action will initiate a series of unannounced sweeps for drugs, alcohol and weapons at Hot Springs High School (HSHS) and T-or-C Middle School (TCMS) over the remainder of the current semester. In a formal announcement to community members, included the legal advertisements in this edition of the Sentinel, district authorities state this effort is being made to deter both the possession and use of such contraband materials and to improve overall safety and security on the district’s secondary level campuses. The district’s statement notes the impromptu searches will periodically target parking lots, empty dressing rooms, vacant restrooms and student lockers. School district officials are encouraging anyone with questions about the program to contact administrative staff for further information. Questions may be directed to officials through the District Central Office located at 180 N. Date St., or by phoning 575-894-8166. In discussions prior to approving the aforementioned contract, Board Member Brett Smith said that while he understands the district’s obligation to protect students, he was nonetheless uncomfortable with the presence of search dogs on school campuses. Several faculty members shared statements indicating they felt the canine searches could effectively serve as a deterrent and aid in school security. Board members were told the proposed contract would only carry through the present semester and would likely include one unannounce…

Is It Big Enough?

Amid a construction report, which noted development of the new T-or-C Elementary School is progressing steadily, Superintendent Craig Cummins acknowledged the new facility would not include sufficient classroom space to handle the anticipated influx of new students in the years ahead. He told board members efforts are now underway to maintain four present Kindergarten classrooms, which were to be removed as part of the new construction plan. Cummins said if the classrooms in question were removed, the district would likely soon encounter a need for additional space. He suggested retaining the brick and mortar classrooms would be preferable to installing temporary trailers at the “new” school and indicated he would be providing further updates regarding this concern during upcoming board sessions…..

Bill Pre-Filed To Take Our Tax Money

Bills pre-filed ahead of the 2014 New Mexico Legislative session include one seeking to expand the definition of “local revenue” for inclusion in the calculation of the state Equalization Funding Formula, and would place a tax approved by Sierra County voters in 2007 squarely in the crosshairs for redistribution. A local tax approved by Sierra and Dona Ana county voters to partially fund Spaceport America, a portion of which is benefitting the Truth or Consequences School District, has some lawmakers scrambling to “correct” what they see as a violation of the state’s laws mandating how money is collected and distributed among schools. The EFF was designed to ensure students in low property tax base districts receive an education equal to those in more affluent ones. While the bill has little chance of adoption during the upcoming 30-day session, several lawmakers have vowed to address this issue before it ends up in court. The session begins Jan. 21. The Truth or Consequences School District receives about $100,000 annually in Gross Receipts Tax (GRT), which provides revenue for science, technology and math programs here. Former Gov. Bill Richardson, the state Economic Development Office and state officials were apprised of the EFF when in 2007 they reclassified (for 20 years) the tax as a grant, to garner local support for enacting a quarter-cent per $100 tax in Sierra County. Voters in Sierra and Dona Ana counties approved the tax to help launch the $209 million Spaceport America project with the understanding these funds would benefit the schools. Last fall, when the Finance Authority Oversight Committee met in Las Cruces, members of the body heard a report from Spaceport America Director Christine Anderson, who explained the tax and how it is spent…..

Legislative Committee Endorses Local School District Be Stripped Of Funding

It appears an effort is underway to strip Sierra County of a significant amount of money for the school system here, after a state legislative interim committee endorsed draft legislation to stop gross receipts taxes from the Spaceport America project being used specifically for Sierra and Doña Ana counties.
Rep. Patricia Lundstrom (D-Gallup), chair of the Finance Authority Oversight Committee, is contending this revenue, currently classified as a grant, should be deemed a tax, and doing so would mean the money would be distributed equally among school districts across New Mexico.
She plans on asking Gov. Susana Martinez to allow a bill to be heard in the 30-day legislative session that starts in January, because it involves the state budget.
Sierra County voters approved the tax to help finance New Mexico’s $209 million spaceport in 2008, with the promise by proponents of the project that it would bring much needed monies to schools locally. And it has, according to Sierra County Treasurer Terri Copsin. Her records show the 25-cent per $100 tax has reaped $1,314,376.55 for the spaceport since 2009, and $571,636.79 for schools.
Lundstrom hopes to strip this money from Sierra ……

Testing, PED Trying Teachers’ Patience

Testing is a fundamental aspect of education, serving as a tool to assess students’ retention of instructed information and their ability to apply acquired data in a useful manner. The fact that modern students are required to take exams is not at all surprising. However, recent attempts to standardize education from both the state and federal level have presented students with a seemingly ever-changing and increasing number of mandated evaluations, with questionable results. Presently, students attending T-or-C District schools annually participate in Standards Based Assessments (SBA) and also engage in interim assessments through the recently adopted “Discovery” program. SBA scores are utilized to gauge student performance and are also now being used as a critical factor in both teacher and school district evaluations. In addition to these tests, students are evaluated with established “End of Course” (EoC) exams, which are geared to assess actual classroom learning. Meanwhile, students at Hot Springs High School are administered the New Mexico High School Competency Exam (NMSHCE), the (SBA) High School Graduation Assessment (HSGA) and many are further involved in supplemental testing through the Alternate Assessment of High School Graduation (AAHSG). (Additional details about student testing are available on the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) website, While everyone involved with public education would agree there is a positive intent at the core of current student testing, the increasing amount…..

School Board Eyes Student Testing

Faculty and administrative concerns about student testing was a recurring theme of discussion during the Truth or Consequences District Schools Board meeting October 10. Among the issues raised during the session was the amount of standardized tests students are now required to take on an annual basis and the number of classroom hours being diverted to such practices. Discussion briefly centered on the manner in which test results are being used as a measure for teacher and school evaluations, and board members were told of a growing disconnect between New Mexico’s school districts and state education authorities over these issues. In her regular report, NEA representative Barbara Pearlman outlined some of the issues that teachers’ union officials are currently forwarding at the state level. Topping the short list was a pending challenge of the State Public Education Department’s (PED) teacher evaluation procedures by national NEA representatives. Pearlman did not elaborate on the national NEA’s agenda, but in later conversation indicated the PED’s decision to tie these evaluations to student testing results was a primary topic. Pearlman also told the board that the amount of time teachers are being forced to focus on testing and other duties outside the classroom would be another important point of union discussions in the weeks ahead. Following these comments with his customary report, Director of Student Achievement and Federal Programs, Dr. Robert Vise reviewed recent district-wide “Discovery” testing results and outlined schedules for upcoming tests later in the semester. Dr. Vise said considerable efforts were being aimed at the planned introduction of “timed tests” statewide in 2014. He said this would represent a big change for New Mexico and that further details would be forthcoming. Dr. Vise also acknowledged that officials with school districts throughout the state are expressing a rising level of concern and apprehension about the implementation of this and other recent testing revisions. In response, board Vice President Denise Barrera rhetorically asked if the district was only teaching students to pass tests. While emphasizing the importance of passing tests, she suggested school authorities appeared to just be going through the required motions and questioned if the district might be able to opt out. Board Secretary Rita Ortiz said the number of tests and related loss of classroom time was becoming a big problem throughout the state. Dr. Vise added that a report from one district showed only six weeks of their entire school year did not involve testing. While stating the school board did have the power to opt out of mandated tests, board President Jay Johnson said such a decision would undoubtedly result in major funding ramifications from both state and federal levels. Johnson suggested a preliminary expression of the board’s concerns about student testing could be compiled into a formal resolution. He said if approved, the measure could then be forwarded to the PED as an initial emphasis of the problems district officials are encountering with the present approach. Board members agreed and instructed administrative staff to draft a resolution and include it on the next meeting agenda for review. •Later in the evening, faculty member Jaylene McGregor provided board members with a report about seemingly ever-changing graduation requirements for students at Hot Springs High School (HSHS) and all other high schools throughout the state. In detailing recent changes, McGregor relayed how one specific test, slated to be given to a number of students this coming January, would not return results to the district until June. She noted HSHS graduation occurs in May and said this lag in receiving student test scores would likely create problems for both students and district authorities. McGregor went on to outline options for seniors who successfully completed academic requirements, but struggled with required testing. In light of these options and the aforementioned tardy test results, she suggested a board decision would be necessary, for district officials to determine which students would be able to “walk” with their graduating class and which ones would not. Emphasizing the importance of this decision, McGregor noted ……

School Board Ok’s Bond Sale

With construction and renovation efforts in full swing at Truth or Consequences Elementary School (TCES), members of the school board approved a motion August 8 to sell half of the bonds available to the district for the project. Earlier this year, local voters approved an approximate $6 million dollar bond initiative, which was earmarked for completion of the TCES project and several other facility upgrades throughout the district. Before taking action at their scheduled August 8 session, RBC Capital Investment Analyst Jeremy Landrum offered the board a brief report concerning the proposed sale. He explained that the present market was favorable for the move and said a number of lending institutions were already in line to participate in the planned bond sale, slated to occur September 12. After confirming the initiative would garner the district approximately $3 million for the ongoing projects, members unanimously supported a motion to approve the bond sale…..

Learning Admid Progress

Back to school

Students arriving for their first day of classes at the T-or-C Elementary School were cheerfully welcomed by faculty members and district officials, as well as by a flurry of ongoing construction activity. With the development of new classrooms and major renovations in full swing, school officials and contractors have been working closely to assure student safety by establishing safe pathways through active construction zones. Every effort is being made to provide students with as normal a daily school routine as possible, while also allowing the long-anticipated development project to proceed on pace.

School Board Looks To Modify E-Media Rules

With the 2013-2014 school year set to begin on August 13, the T-or-C District School Board focused on a number of preparatory tasks during their regular meeting Thursday, July 11. Among the primary action items was a review and consideration of student and staff handbooks. As they moved to address this topic, board members discussed concerns raised earlier in the evening during public comment by Hot Springs High School (HSHS) Social Studies teacher Shara Montoya. Montoya stated her desire to incorporate the use of new electronic media devices into her classroom instruction. She told the board how students who are now growing up in a world of interconnected media are very well versed in the use of Nook, Kindle, iPads and similar devices and said she felt district regulations were not in line with the social changes occurring in the community. Montoya noted that district rules currently forbid students to bring electronic devices on campus, but present a contradictory stipulation stating the use of such equipment is permitted for educational purposes. Acknowledging that she has taken advantage of the stipulation and opted to incorporate the use of some devices by her students, Montoya reported the results of the effort have been very positive. She said that with proper guidance and supervision, the utilization of new interactive media can be of significant benefit to both the students and teachers. One of the benefits Montoya stressed was the ability for her to have immediate access to textbook. She explained that the electronic access assures classroom instruction is not interrupted, should students lose, misplace or forget to bring their assigned textbooks to school. Montoya urged school board members to convene a special committee to examine the District’s policies regarding the use of interactive devices and clarify measures now preventing students from bringing what are fast becoming valuable tools into the classrooms. School board member Denise Barrera said she didn’t feel the district’s board policy restricting the possession and use of electronic devices was appropriate and suggested such matters would be more properly addressed by the administrative staff of each school. District Superintendent Dr. Craig Cummins acknowledged the rapidly changing landscape being posed upon educators by the introduction of such revolutionary technological devices and said he felt Montoya’s idea about forming a committee to examine district policy would be worthy of consideration. While board members took no formal action, they did agree to revise present policies at HSHS and T-or-C Middle School (TCMS) before the coming school year. As the board considered approval of the coming year’s handbooks, members unanimously supported a motion to pull sections pertaining to the use of electronic devices from both schools’ handbooks. Board members further agreed to proceed with the printing of the customary publications and to include supplemental regulations regarding the use of such devices, which would be prepared and then formally considered during their August 8 regular session. …..

Summertime School Work

TCES ConstructionWith students away and summer break providing a short window of opportunity for major aspects of the scheduled renovations to commence, contractors with HB Construction were on task at the Truth or Consequences Elementary School on Monday, June 17. Focusing on demolition of both exterior and interior elements of the old school building, workers will soon be turning their attention toward renovation construction of new classrooms, office space and a full renovation of the facility’s cafeteria complex.

Pasture, Range Team Wins State

Pasture & Range Team

The Pasture and Range team earned the title of the 2013 State Champions, with team members Matthew Welty placing second individually, Teryn Roberts placing third, Regan Chavez placing fourth and Quaid Muncy placing seventh.
The Land team placed second with members Mackenzie Greene placing fourth, Christian Hopkins placing seventh. Other team members include Ramon Carrillo and Kade Hopkins.
The Farm Business Management team placed second overall, with members Zerod Underwood placing fourth individually, Ramon Carrillo placing tenth and Skylar Green placing eleventh. Brittany Apodaca was the fourth team member.
The Landscape Design team placed third overall, with Sara Nelson placing fourth individually and Nichole McGuire placing tenth. Teammates Quaid Downs and Gustavo Barron rounded out the team.
The HSHS Crops team placed third, with members Matthew Welty placing fourth, Quaid Muncy placing seventh and Savannah Gilllis placing eleventh.
The Homesite team placed seventh overall. The team consists of Mackenzie Greene, Cheyenne Hearn, Christian Hopkins and Kade Hopkins.
The Horse Team also competed with members Savannah Harris, Sara Nelson and Skylar Green.
The students and staff at HSHS are very proud of each and every member that participated and competed in the 2013 State Career Development Events. Congratulations to the teams, and a big thank you all who helped and supported to make it all possible.
Everyone at Hot Springs High wishes the best of luck to the Pasture and Range team, who will be traveling and competing at the National Contest in Oklahoma City in May.

HSHS Cheerleaders Bring Home State Championship

HSHS Cheerleaders 2013

By Penny Brownwood
The Hot Springs High School (HSHS) Co-Ed Cheerleading Team returned home victorious with the State Championship trophy. Their hard work paid off as they received the championship trophy Saturday, March 23 after two days of tough completion.
From July to March, long hours of practice and dedication worked for the 2012-2013 cheerleaders as they left last Thursday for Rio Rancho, NM to compete Friday and Saturday in the New Mexico State Spirit Competitions.
The state competition is the third largest annual event hosted by the New Mexico Activities Association (NMAA), following football and basketball. The NMAA hosted over 2,000 athletes representing high school varsity dance/drill and cheerleading and competing in seven categories and five different classes.
This year’s HSHS Cheerleaders that competed included Seniors: Alyssa Nickles and Shelby Bullington; Junior: Isabel Maldonado; Sophomores: Barbara Aron-Lee Chavez, Kalee Brownwood, Anthony Goulart and David Gurule; and Freshman: Halley Forbes. The team’s coaches are Shawnee Renfro Williams and Sonya Renfro Williams.
The last time the HSHS Cheerleading Championship trophy was brought to Truth or Consequences was in 1987.
Thanks goes out to all of the parents and community for their help and support, and to KCHS Radio for their support and help getting the word out for this year’s champions’ homecoming parade.

Bond Approved, New School Board Set

With a final canvassing of the ballots set to confirm results Friday, February 8, the outcome of the February 5 school board election appears to be nonetheless clear.
Although battles for the four available board positions captured most of the local attention, T-or-C School District authorities and a good percentage of area residents were no doubt pleased to see the General Obligation School Bond endorsed by an overwhelming majority of voters.
In the as yet unofficial tally, a total of 636 ballots were cast in favor of the bond initiative, while just 179 ballots were registered as being opposed to the measure. With this endorsement, Sierra County voters have guaranteed continuance of the present property tax mil-levy earmarked for the school district. This in turn will open the door for administrative staff to apply approximately $6 million in associated revenues toward the remodeling of T-or-C Elementary School and a list of other necessary improvements throughout the district.
With this important funding secured for the immediate future, district administrative staff will no doubt be focusing on proceeding with their established plans, while also working to establish a good working relationship with four new members of the school board.
The February 5 election featured a field of nine candidates seeking to fill four available seats on the school board. With the exception of the Position Five race, preliminary tallies showed a clear margin of victory in the other three, and once confirmed will have School Board President Jay Johnson welcoming a full panel of new faces.

•POSITION I – Denise K. Barrera
Former School Board member Denise Barerra will be returning for renewed four-year term, collecting 547 votes to the 279 garnered by community newcomer and long-time educator, Robert Gunderson.

•POSITION II – Rita M. Ortiz
This post will complete the two years remaining on former board vice-president Randy Piper’s term. Area voters sided in favor of former district teacher Rita M. Ortiz to fulfill this role. The initial ballot count gave Ortiz a total of 547 votes, while tallying 241 for her opponent, Mary B. Wickstrom.

•POSITION IV – H. Brett Smith
This race was the most heavily contested, with three candidates seeking to fill the four-year board post. The preliminary count gave Brett Smith a total of 481 votes, far outpacing the 180 ballots garnered by Ben N. Kalminson and the 177 ballots siding for Bobby R. Dawkins.

•POSITION V – Angela Rael
This race featured the election’s only board incumbent, John Ashbaugh, and while much closer than the other position battles, the initial ballot count showed Angela Rael emerging with a 26-vote margin of victory. Final tallies on election night gave Rael a total of 430 votes, to the 404 ballots cast in support of Ashbaugh.

After the election results are formally canvassed on Friday, board president Johnson and school district officials will begin preparing to welcome the winning candidates into their new roles during the school board session scheduled for Thursday, March 14.
In the meantime, current school board members are planning to gather for the group’s final regular meeting together on Valentines Day, Thursday evening, February 14.

School Election Tuesday

Sierra County voters go to the polls on Tuesday, February 5 to cast their ballots and help decide which of nine formal candidates will be elected to fill four vacant seats on the T-or-C District School Board.
Detailed information about each of the candidates may be found elsewhere in this issue of the Sentinel. The following individuals will appear on Tuesday’s ballot.
Position One
(four year term)
•Robert J. Gunderson
•Denise K. Barrera
Position Two
(two year term-filling an unexpired term)
•Rita M. Ortiz
•Mary B. Wickstrom
Position Four
(four year term)
•Bobby R. Dawkins
•Benjamin N. Kalminson
•H. Brett Smith
Position Five
(four year term)
•John K Ashbaugh
•Angela A. Rael
Aside from the important task of selecting new board members, Tuesday’s ballot will also ask voters to decide if the district should proceed with the issuance of $6 million in general obligation bonds.
The measure seeks approval to pay for these bonds through the continuance of a property tax mil levy presently earmarked for the school district, and does not seek a tax increase.
If approved, district authorities would be authorized to move forward on a number of planned renovation and improvement projects affecting most of the district’s school facilities.

A complete overview  of each candidate can be found in this week’s Sierra County Sentinel.

10 Seek School Board Positions

Tuesday, December 18 was the deadline for candidates hoping to fill one of four available seats on the T-or-C District School Board in the upcoming February 5 school board election.
As the opportunity for candidates to file came to a close, officials with the Sierra County Clerk’s office acknowledged that a field of ten candidates would be vying for the available board positions. Notably, the list of prospective candidates includes only one incumbent member of the school board.
The following candidates have registered and will be competing for voter support in the coming weeks.
(Four Year Term)
(Cathy Vickers currently holds this post and will not be seeking a return to the board.)
•Karen Weber
•Robert J. Gunderson
•Denise K. Barrera
(Two Year Term)
(John Ashbaugh presently fills this seat, previously held by Randy Piper, but has chosen to contend for the four-year Position-V seat, leaving space for a new candidate to fulfill the remaining two years of Piper’s original term.)
•Rita M. Ortiz
•Mary B. Wickstrom
(Former board president Ann Filosa currently holds this position and will not be seeking re-election.)
•Bobby R. Dawkins
•Benjamin Kalminson
•H. Brett Smith
(Louis Schwab currently holds this position and will also not be seeking a return to the board.)
•John K. Ashbaugh
•Angela A. Rael

In addition to addressing these board posts, the February 5 election will include a new school bond initiative, which district officials will soon be discussing throughout the community. (For more details see related story in this issue).
Further information about the February 5 election is available through the Sierra County Clerk’s Office, 100 North Date Street, 894-2840, or through the T-or-C School District’s administrative offices, 180 North Date Street, 894-8150.

Funding Drop Drives Changes At HSHS

Originally listed as an action item on the evening’s agenda, consideration of the possible scheduling change was altered to a “discussion only” topic upon a recommendation from District Superintendent Dr. Craig Cummins at the outset of the meeting.
After addressing a number of regular business items, board members opened the floor for public comments and quickly learned that the administration’s proposed shift to a seven class period school day has sparked a wave of apprehension and concern.
Board members were told how the proposed change would significantly increase the number of students in future classes, shorten class time and lessen the amount of time available for personal interaction between students and their teachers.
Speakers also expressed concern about how the potential move might interfere with teachers’ ability to properly assist students with special needs and how the increased workload would be disruptive and possibly detrimental to the quality of education provided at HSHS.
Following public comment, Superintendent Cummins shared his appreciation for the speakers’ input and said that many of the concerns and ideas expressed would be taken into consideration before any decision would be made.
Dr. Cummins noted that one of the district’s primary goals is the pursuit of continuous improvement through “data driven” decision making.
Cummins then outlined how the district’s fund balance has decreased by approximately $400,000 over the past two years. He said this was primarily due to a steady decline in student enrollment figures, but that recent low facility grades and district-wide test-scores also factor into the decline of available funding.
Emphasizing that the administration was sensitive to the difficulties a schedule change could pose for HSHS, and sharing a personal empathy for the emotional concerns expressed during public comment, Assistant Superintendent Loren Cushman explained how district efforts were being driven by facts and data collected over the past several years.
He said the district in

School Gets Underway

These young ladies emerged from their bus smiling and all set to begin a new school year at Sierra Elementary Complex (SEC) early Tuesday morning, August 14. In order to help ease the first day’s confusion, a contingent of faculty members were on hand to welcome the arriving students and help them locate their new classrooms.

This is just one of many stories being covered in this week’s Sierra County Sentinel.

Burris Resigns

By Chuck Wentworth | SENTINEL

In a surprise move following a closed-door executive session at a special meeting of the T-or-C School Board Thursday evening, July 19, board members formally accepted the resignation of District Superintendent Tom Burris.

Attempts to contact Burris about his decision were unsuccessful prior to the Sentinel’s press deadline. However, in a brief telephone interview later in the evening, school board chairman Jay Johnson confirmed that Burris would be stepping away from his position in T-or-C to accept the role of Superintendent for the Roswell School District.

According to Johnson, while Burris expressed disappointment in leaving behind the leadership team he had helped to create during his approximately four years as district superintendent, he felt accepting this role for a larger school district was a career opportunity he could not pass up.

With Burris’ departure confirmed, Johnson said that board members approved the appointment ……

Ashbaugh Named To School Board Vacancy

By Chuck Wentworth | SENTINEL

T-or-C school board members approved the appointment of John Ashbaugh to fill a vacant board position during a special session Monday evening, June 4. The vacancy was created by the departure of former board vice-president Randy Piper.
With board members’ endorsement, Ashbaugh will assume the post and be asked to serve in the role until the next regular school board election in January. At that time, Sierra County voters will be asked to select a candidate to fulfill the remainder of Piper’s original term.
Prior to selecting Ashbaugh, board member Ann Filosa stated she would have ….

5 Apply For Open School Board Seat

By Etta Pettijohn | For The SENTINEL

A total of five local residents have applied to fill the empty seat on the Truth or Consequences Municipal School Board left vacant by the April 27 resignation of  Board Vice President Randy Piper.

Piper has accepted a position as Superintendent of Lordsburg Municipal Schools. He was elected to the Board in 2011, with his term expiring in February 2013.

According to T-or-C Municipal District School Superintendent Tom Burris, the District has advertised for the position in local newspapers, and received letters of intent and qualifications until Monday, May 14. The Board will choose a new member from the field of five applicants to fill the remainder of the position at its May 31 meeting.

The five applicants include…..

TCES Receives Grant For Summer Program

Truth or Consequences Elementary School (TCES) was recently awarded a grant for the summer of 2012. The grant allows the school to extend the school year by one month and provide an emphasis on basic educational skills.

The grant also allows the school to offer kindergarten to third grade students the opportunity to focus on reading, writing and math skills during the program that runs from July 5 to August 8. Classes will run from 8:20 a.m. to 2:50 p.m., Monday through Friday. (Lunch will be provided.)

“We invite all 2012-13 incoming kindergarten through third graders to participate in this summer program,” said Hank Hopkins, principal at TCES.

School officials encourage parents to register their students as early as possible to allow them to staff accordingly.
Persons wishing more information about the TCES K-3 Plus School may contact the elementary school at (575) 894-8372 or e-mail

Funding for the program comes from a PED K-E Plus grant.

FFA Returns From States With Top Honors

Hot Springs High School FFA team members gathered together in Las Cruces last week for the state FFA judging competitions. The Pasture and Range team came back once fist in the state; Arlis Chavez was high point individual in the state. The team will travel to Oklahoma City at the end of the month to participate in the national judging competitions.
Members of the Pasture and Range Team are Arlis Chavez, Nichole McGuire, Mackenzie Green and Savannah Gillis.
Also qualifying to go to nationals was the second place  ….

Saying Goodbye, Coach Lee Retires

Coach Lee Retires

by Jimmy Butler

How do you say goodbye to someone like Coach Travis Lee?  Well, lucky for us we don’t have to because he will still be around.

New Look Police Car Is ‘Tiger Friendly’

The Truth or Consequences Police Department unveiled its “new look” paint scheme for the car assigned to the school’s Resource Officer on Thursday, February 16.

The awesome new graphics the T-or-C Police car now sports are compliments of Desert Graphics (DGI). Don Hearn, owner of Desert Graphics, supplied not only the cool graphics but also supplied the labor involved in applying them to make the car more “Tiger friendly”.

With more attention being paid to the safety of young people while they are at school, many communities are considering strategies, which are intended to make schools safer environments. One of the ways communities are taking action is by making decisions that law enforcement officers need to be assigned to provide coverage to schools so that safety, security and order can..