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School board chooses Pittman to fill vacancy

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Kathleen Pittman answers a question during interviews for the Roswell school board’s District 2 position Monday. Pittman was selected after a 3-1 school board vote to fill the vacancy left after Nicole Austin resigned in July. (Jeff Tucker Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

The Roswell school board chose a new member Monday night after interviewing the three people who applied for the school board seat vacated by former board member Nicole Austin in late July.

The school board voted 3-1 to appoint Kathleen M. Pittman to the five-member school board. School board president Mona Kirk cast the dissenting vote.
Kirk told the Daily Record after Monday’s meeting she voted ‘nay’ on Pittman’s nomination because she felt a different applicant was more qualified.
“I am just thrilled we had three people to apply,” Kirk said.
Pittman will be sworn in at the next school board meeting on Sept. 12.
Pittman, Pamela K. Boyd and Barbara R. Norfor applied for the District 2 vacancy created by Austin’s abrupt resignation on July 28.
Austin, who cited a need to balance the needs of work and family in her resignation letter, was the school board’s president at the time. Pittman will serve the final portion of the term to which Austin was elected on Feb. 7.
Austin was elected in February to serve the last two years of the four-year term former board member James W. Waldrip was elected to in February 2015. Waldrip resigned from the school board in the fall of 2015 due to health issues.
Resignations and election defeats for school board incumbents have completely reshaped the Roswell school board. School board vice president Ruben James Sanchez, elected in February 2015, is the most senior member of the five-member Roswell Independent School District Board of Education.
The four existing board members asked each of the three applicants a series of questions in open session at Monday’s two-hour meeting.
“The board is in flux,” said Pittman, a retired associate professor from Eastern New Mexico University. “And a lot of people have changed here at the central office.”
Asked why she wanted to serve on the school board, Pittman, a 1963 graduate of Roswell High School and former school teacher in Alabama, said she feels she can make a contribution.
“I feel very comfortable in our schools, all of them,” Pittman said. “I think it’s important school board members are seen out in the community.”
Asked about the relationships between school board members and the school district’s superintendent, Pittman, who retired in May 2016, said things should be kept professional.
“If the superintendent, whoever that may be, says something to me, I want to know that’s a fact,” she said. “I don’t want to be anybody’s buddy. The relationships should be professional.”
Pittman also said she’s not an ideologue.
“You can convince me to change my mind,” said Pittman, who returned to Roswell in 2005. “It’s not that I’m wishy-washy, but if I get more facts, I may change my mind.
“If you’ll convince me I’m wrong, OK, I’ll go along with you.”
Norfor, who had a 26-year career at RISD starting as an educational assistant and worked her way up into administration until her retirement in September 2012, said the school’s grades are too low, and the school district pays too much to contractors.

“I would like to now be able to serve in certain areas I didn’t have when I was an employee of the school district,” said Norfor, an ordained senior pastor at New Life Church of Roswell.
Norfor said the school district suffers from far too many teaching vacancies.
“So I believe that will continue to be a challenge,” she said.
Norfor said she is an active listener with an open-door policy and is very dependable and reliable.
“I don’t like to be late and I don’t like things that start late,” she said.
Asked about the relationship with the school district superintendent, Norfor said she would be supportive.
“My relationship with the superintendent should be one of support, because an adversarial relationship with the superintendent will get nothing done,” she said.
Boyd, an operations supervisor at Farm Credit of New Mexico, said she had three children that attended RISD schools, and five grandchildren that currently do.
“I would just like to help make a difference in the school district and do all I can for the community,” she said.
Boyd, who attended Roswell High School, said the challenges facing the school district include developing and training teachers, and getting parents more involved. She described herself as trustworthy and a hard worker.
Boyd said the relationships between the school board members and the superintendent should be respectful.
“It should be a professional relationship and I should always show my respect for her, or him,” she said.
After the interviews were over, nominations for an appointee were about to begin when school board member James Edwards said he wanted some time to digest the interviews.
“I thought all three of them did a good job,” Edwards said. “I’m very opinionated, but I don’t want to make a decision spur of the moment.”
School board member Alan Gedde noted the school board has 45 days from the date of Austin’s July 28 resignation to fill the District 2 position.
“I’m OK voting tonight, but I’m not saying I’m not OK with more time,” Gedde said. “I feel comfortable with what the board decides.”
Kirk noted the appointee will only serve a year and a half, until the February 2019 school board elections.
Sanchez said he wanted a fellow school board member devoid of personal agendas.
“I would like to see somebody come in with a fresh set of eyes, one that wants to learn,” he said. “One thing that I don’t want is somebody of course with an agenda, or somebody that’s tied to somebody in the district or has relationships already. I want somebody that’s just here for the right reasons, and that’s for the kids, and that’s it, period. For the kids, period.”
After a brief recess, the board reconvened and voted to appoint Pittman, with Edwards, Gedde and Sanchez voting in the affirmative.
Only residents of District 2 were eligible to apply for the District 2 seat. District 2 lies in northwest Roswell, between Berrendo Road and West Second Street, primarily west of Main Street.
Editor Jeff Tucker can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 303, or at editor@rdrnews.com.