Teachers unions and some state lawmakers opposed to the New Mexico Public Education Department's teacher evaluation system are asking the state Court of Appeals to reconsider its contention that the program is invalid because it violates state laws. The Albuquerque Journal reports the request comes after a state District Court judge last month refused to block Governor Susana Martinez's administration from continuing to implement a new system for evaluating teachers. The coalition’s point of contention centers on state laws that require school principals to conduct the evaluations. The Governor’s plan allows other teachers to do them.
A Rio Rancho State Senator has pre-filed a bill to prevent school drop outs by tying school attendance to driving privileges. Republican Craig Brandt says his legislation establishes a system to identify those at risk of dropping out. *****Dec. 23-Brandt-1 :25***** Brandt says most states have some mechanism tying school attendance to driver licenses. Brandt is a former Rio Rancho School Board member and says a similar program there has contributed to growth in its graduation rate.
New Mexico is among several states that will share 11 million dollars from the U-S Department of Agriculture to improve the quality of school meals. The funding will help schools purchase needed equipment to make preparing and serving healthier meals easier and more efficient.
In addition to New Mexico, 13 states as well as the District of Columbia and Guam were selected to receive grants based on free- and reduced-price participation in the National School Lunch Program. Federal officials say the states will competitively award the funds to school districts to purchase equipment. Priority will be given to districts serving a high percentage of low-income children.
Later today in Portales, Roosevelt County Commissioners will meet to hire a new County Clerk and a deputy. This after Friday’s resignation of Clerk Donna Carpenter and her Deputy Clerk, Janet Collins, who stepped down after the State Supreme Court ruling that said it’s unconstitutional to bar same-sex couples from getting marriage licenses. Carpenter and Collins told officials in the county bordering Texas that they would quit rather than be associated with the court ruling. The Clerk’s office is closed until replacements are named.
A University of New Mexico health extension rural officer in Northern New Mexico is this year’s Con Alma Health Foundation’s “Hero of Health” award winner. Juliana Anastasoff serves the north central region of the state. Anastasoff’s accomplishments include implementing a program called “Mental Health First Aid” that has roots in Australia: *****Dec. 23 Anastasoff-1 :20***** As part of the “Hero” honor, Con Alma is donating one-thousand dollars to the New Mexico Acequia Association on behalf of Anastasoff.
The Navajo Nation and Burlington Northern Santa Fe have agreed to have the Thoreau Industrial Park Railhead operational by June 2015. The Farmington Daily Times reports that the railhead could link a proposed freight railroad that would end in Farmington to the transcontinental rail that spans most of the country. The railhead would also sit on about 300 acres of Navajo Nation land.
Santa Fe Weather: Today: Sunny, with a high near 38. Tonight: Mostly clear, with a low around 20. Tuesday: Sunny, with a high near 42.