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NMMI approves United Arab Emirates contract; Regents agree to pursue negotiations with private school system

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New Mexico Military Institute regents gave their nod of approval at a Friday meeting for NMMI leadership to continue negotiations on what could be a five-year lucrative deal with a private school system in the United Arab Emirates. From left are Maj. Gen. Jerry Grizzle, NMMI superintendent and president, and regents Stirling Spencer, Col. Tim Paul, Col. Barbara Trent and Brad Christmas. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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Members of the New Mexico Military Institute Board of Regents have given NMMI leadership the go-ahead to pursue a potentially lucrative contract with a private school system in the United Arab Emirates.

Emirates National Schools has asked NMMI for its expertise in developing and running a private school for boys in Abu Dhabi that would be modeled in many ways after NMMI, said Maj. Gen. Jerry Grizzle, NMMI superintendent and president.

He told those gathered for the Friday morning Board of Regents meeting on the Institute campus during Homecoming Weekend that the school system in the Middle East has been talking with NMMI for a couple of years about its plans to add a school with an emphasis on strict discipline.

 

“The rationale they gave (for wanting to start the school) was that the money they enjoyed in Abu Dhabi and Dubai was nice, but it had gone to take away some of the family values that they would like to instill,” Grizzle said.

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In summer 2015, a representative from the schools visited 10 U.S. military academies and educational institutions, deciding after that tour that NMMI was the school it wanted as the model, Grizzle said.

Now the superintendent and other senior administrators, with the approval of the regents, have determined the flat fee they will seek to deliver a school development plan to Emirates National Schools, what Grizzle said he jokingly referred to as “The Military School for Dummies Book.”

That ask amount is $500,000.

According to Chief Financial Officer Col. Judy Scharmer, the dollar amount was determined not only by calculating the time and personnel costs in creating the document but also in adding in the value of 126 years of experience that went into creating the organizational structures, systems, protocols and administrative policies that make up the NMMI experience.

“Quite frankly, I did have an extreme upcharge, a mark-up value,” said Scharmer, “because I think, of 126 years of history and knowledge, that there is simply an added value than simply taking our time and multiplying it by an hourly rate.”

She also said that rates used to develop cost estimates are based on an “international” rate.

Grizzle said the Emirates schools system would adapt the manual to fit its needs.

“From there, they would take the manual and customize it for their culture and the things that they are trying to accomplish,” Grizzle said.

The partnership between the two school groups also could involve additional phases.

In phase two, NMMI would provide professional consulting services to the school system for up to a year after its opening, including hiring and one-on-one training of key personnel, with the Institute to receive a monthly fee that would total more than $1 million over a year.

The third phase, which could span another four years, would provide consulting services on an as-needed basis, with a proposed fee schedule developed for various professional services and consultations. Regents also approved that proposed fee schedule, according to Col. David West.

Grizzle and other senior leadership said that all of the proposed services still must be negotiated with the Emirates National Schools, and it is reasonable to expect that the Emirates school system would want to discuss and change some of the fee amounts or services provided.

Grizzle also said that the Emirates schools also have talked about the possibility of starting a girls’ school at some point and possibly a junior college program similar to what NMMI offers, which would be a new concept for the school system.

According to the Emirates National Schools website, the system was created in 2002 and is operated by the Ministry of Presidential Affairs. At this time, it consists of five campuses and its curricula is based on U.S. Common Core Standards for math, English and science.

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.