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RISD chooses firm for superintendent search; Interim superintendent expresses disappointment with recent performance evaluation

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The Roswell Independent School District Board of Education has selected a consulting group for the superintendent search and it also has approved a performance evaluation of Interim Superintendent Susan Sanchez, one that has “disappointed” the school district leader.

While saying she plans to continue working collaboratively with the district and community and intends to apply for the superintendent’s role, Sanchez also stated, “I am disappointed in my overall evaluation results. I fell into the needs improvement category. I believe I owe it to my constituents to be transparent concerning my job performance.”

Sanchez provided a lengthy statement, which appears in its entirety as a sidebar to this article and in it’s entirety below.

Statement from Susan Sanchez

Sanchez

I am disappointed in my overall evaluation results. I fell into the needs of improvement category. I believe I owe it to my constituents to be transparent concerning my job performance.

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Since coming aboard as interim superintendent now completing seven months, I have worked extremely hard and focused in four areas to continue to move the Roswell Independent School District forward: leadership, community involvement, student and staff support.

I have demonstrated my leadership skills by providing a smooth transition into the district, moving straight into the NM State Assessment period, implementing live streaming of board meetings to enhance transparency to all constituents. The Virtual Back-to-School meeting was an overwhelming success by the feedback I received from the staff. Valuing our teachers’ and principals’ time in providing them an extra two-and-half hours to collaborate in moving their schools forward. Safety is my No. 1 priority. I am working with my facilities team to build two vestibules to secure the entry ways at both Roswell High and Goddard High School. I am also overseeing the RHS Athletic Complex under the direction of Mac Rogers, RISD construction manager. My team and I presented the design proposal for Del Norte Elementary School construction to the Public Schools Capital Outlay Council, at its Aug. 11 meeting at the Roundhouse, and secured state matching awards to cover 73 percent of the total cost of this project (a significant return on investment for the voters of Chaves County). In my opinion, these are not small feats; however, gathering input from others, working collaboratively as a team, listening to concerns, and, finally, systematically implementing successful initiatives.

My role as interim superintendent is to be the face of the District. I take this role seriously. Marketing our school district and involving community partners is essential. I serve on the Roswell Rotary, Roswell Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Board and the Assurance Home. In addition, I also present to all local organizations when requested. For example, Eastern New Mexico Medical Center, Pecos Valley Rotary, Roswell Rotary, Sunrise Optimist, Roswell Sertoma and my upcoming presentation with the Kiwanis.

I attended the New Mexico Military Institute’s staff Welcome Back; Fun, Family, Fit Night at the Civic Center, the National Guard Armory Employee Luncheon (and) Maj. Gen. Nava’s reception; United Way Kickoff; volunteered at Hike It and Spike It, and many other functions provided by our community.

I have continued to strengthen the partnership with Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell campus by increasing student enrollment and better supporting dual-credit efforts for our students to be prepared for college and career readiness opportunities. I have met with Chief Phil Smith and Sheriff Britt Snyder to ensure our safety protocols are in place. I have worked extensively with the Department of Health in supporting the Maze of Life program, participation in the Youth Risk and Resilience Survey and providing access for students and staff health care opportunities within our three school-based health centers. Other community entities include CASA, Wings for Life, Character Counts of Chaves County, and the Mayor’s 5210 Challenge. I also appear on the “Mike Winter’s Morning Show” monthly to update our community on board meetings. I have been interviewed on the “Bobby Villegas Morning Show” as well to reach out to the Hispanic community.

In addition to these responsibilities, I attend several extra-curricular events in our districts. I attend both academic and athletic events on a regular basis at all levels.

Student achievement is the utmost responsibility that I have, to be accountable for increasing our district grade of a C. The following are initiatives that are reflective in my District Action Plan. They are increasing rigor in the classroom, providing College & Career Pathways, providing a safe and clean environment conducive to learning and collaborating with parents to ensure their children’s needs are being met.

Staff support can be measured through my department walk-throughs; successful collaboration with our two unions, CWA & Roswell Education Association; differentiated professional development opportunities; celebration of quick wins recognized on schools’ 90-day plans and school grades. Campus visits are to recognize instructional best practices and to ensure that resources, supplies and materials are available to all staff.

It is amazing as I look back at all of this work, that my administrative team, staff, teachers, parents, students and the community has embraced these accomplishments within a seven-month time frame!

I am honored to be part of this organization. I look forward in continuing working collaboratively with the board and applying for the superintendent position.

Sanchez noted that she has increased safety at schools, sought to improve academic performance of students, volunteered with and made presentations to community organizations, coordinated community events, worked with Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell to strengthen dual credit programs, increased transparency by livestreaming board meetings, and worked with staff and professional groups to improve relationships and negotiate contract agreements.

“It is amazing as I look back at all of this work, that my administrative team, staff, teachers, parents, students and the community has embraced these accomplishments within a seven-month time frame!” she wrote.

Board President Mona Kirk said that all five members of the board voted to approve the performance evaluation following a closed session Tuesday morning.

“It gave her direction about what the board’s goals were. It was mainly for direction because we had not sat down with her and provided her with that,” Kirk said, “so it was help to her and the district.”

Kirk said that this particular evaluation did not include surveys about Sanchez completed by employees and community leaders, but that kind of measurement tool likely will be included in evaluations of a future superintendent.

“We had checked into it, but we decided it wouldn’t be prudent with our taxpayer’s dollars and it would be better to wait on that until we got a permanent superintendent,” said Kirk.

Sanchez was named interim superintendent in February following the resignation of Tom Burris, who stepped down after five years, citing his eligibility for retirement and his desire to spend more time with his children.

A Roswell native, Sanchez has been a teacher and administrator with public schools for 27 years. She has worked with the RISD for about 20 years, including a previous stint as interim superintendent prior to Burris’s selection.

Kirk said that she would welcome a candidacy by Sanchez.

“I am hoping she will,” said Kirk. “I think she has done a great job so far in leading this district.”

Kirk said that the board has selected a consulting group associated with the New Mexico School Boards Association of Santa Fe to assist with the search. Board members voted on that matter during Sept. 12 public meeting.

Dr. Hugh Prather, one of the three people who work on superintendent’s searches for the NMSBA, said that the organization has conducted dozens of searches for superintendents over the past decade.

“The superintendent’s search service is one of the things that is done for New Mexico school districts that is done as a cost-saving mechanism, because the typical companies that will do an executive search like that will charge two to three times what we will charge to offset our expenses.”

Prather indicated that Dr. Gloria Rendon, a former superintendent, will head the search for the RISD. Rendon did not respond to a phone message by press time.

According to information shared at a June board meeting, the NMSBA group bid $10,604 for the search. That amount included taxes but was before travel and other expenses. Other groups under consideration were Paul and Associates LLC of Albuquerque, headed by former superintendent Dr. Linda Paul, and a group of educational consultants from Utah. Paul and Associates bid $8,750 before taxes or other expenses. The group from Utah bid $44,100 before taxes and outside costs.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.