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RISD calendar year approved

Pictured from left are Goddard High School students Caylin Zavala, Kami Brisco, Kaston Ramage, Katelyn Graham, Austin Eldridge, Aydan Kakaras and Amaya Carabajal. Eldridge, holding the microphone, addresses questions from the Roswell Independent School District’s school board and superintendent regarding the students’ final exam launch, scheduled for today in Jal. The launch is a part of SystemsGo New Mexico, a hands-on rocketry program for high schoolers, and will be the first launch ever with RISD students participating. (Alison Penn Photo)

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School year remains 178 days; out-of-zone policy to be reinforced

The Roswell Independent School District board recently approved the 2019-2020 school calendar and discussed other updates including the district’s out-of-zone policy.

Superintendent Dr. Ann Lynn McIlroy recommended approval of the RISD calendar. Creating the calendar was described by McIlroy as a “long, arduous process” since the discussion started in January.

Board member Mona Kirk made the motion and Secretary Dr. Kathleen Pittman seconded motion. The motion carried unanimously with votes from board member James Edwards, President Alan Gedde and Vice President Ruben Sanchez. Sanchez attended telephonically with all four other members physically present.

In light of the recent Legislative session, McIlroy said extended learning time for K-5 Plus (grades kindergarten through fifth) — and maybe secondary schools — is still possible. Senate Bill 1, recently signed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, would allow more time for K-5 Plus and additional funding if schools choose to implement additional instructional days.

“Throughout the legislative session, there were so many different bills being proposed that would have changed this calendar in one way or another,” McIlroy said. “We really just didn’t know which way to go. And so ultimately, the advisory council proposed two separate calendars and — then when it all came down and all the ciphering and discussion among administrators, the advisory council members, we settled on this particular calendar …”

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McIlroy explained the calendar will have 178 instructional days and 184 staff days. McIlroy also explained staff will have six professional development days and an extra day at the end of the school year. Two of the professional development days will occur near the beginning of school and the remaining four will happen near the end of each nine-week period for curriculum review, which McIlroy said was a “major focus for us next year.”

With enhancements to RISD’s curriculum, McIlroy said it was “critical” for staff to be present for professional development days. In addition, she said 80 hours of professional development is “an essential component to being able to access the extended learning-time funding.”

Kirk noted that professional development days were scheduled for Fridays when teachers may use them for three-day weekends, but McIlroy said those Fridays will be student holidays, not for staff, unless she approves otherwise.

Another change in the calendar will be the timing for parent-teacher conferences. Instead of having a full workday with nighttime conferences and a half day following, McIlroy said RISD employees will have conferences from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on a Wednesday, while students will have the day off. Gedde inquired why Wednesday was selected and in response, McIlroy said there were usually no activities or athletics scheduled.

“That still allows people time to make their appointment, get to church, whatever they want to do,” McIlroy said. “But it doesn’t ask our employees to teach all day — and then stay an extra four hours in the evening.”

With holidays, McIlroy said the dates are “pretty traditional” compared to previous years with a week-long break for Thanksgiving and two weeks for Christmas. Gedde noted that spring break was early. McIlroy explained the date was a compromise with other educational communities, such as New Mexico Military Institute (NMMI) and Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell (ENMU-R). She said the higher education facilities wanted March 9 as a true mid-term, and she said the district needs to be aware of this for Early College High School (ECHS) and dual credit students.

Graduation dates had been shuffled around after ECHS parents and students requested changes at a previous meeting. McIlroy explained that ECHS and Goddard High School (GHS) have graduation the same day at different times, and University High School (UHS) and Roswell High School (RHS) are on the same day at different times. She said RHS and GHS graduations will take place in the evening, with ECHS and UHS graduations in the afternoon, at the performing arts center at ENMU-R.

In her reports, McIlroy said the district will be reinforcing its of out-of-zone policy and will “implement it with fidelity.” She said the largest change is that out-of-zone requests will be approved by her office rather than the principals, since some buildings are “under stress” due to over-capacity due to out-of-zone students. As of Monday, the policy and form were posted on the website at risd.k12.nm.us.

In other RISD news, Chad Cole, superintendent of finance and operations, said design recommendations — after requests for proposals for improvements to Nancy Lopez Elementary School and Mesa Middle School — are planned to come before the school board next month.

Cole said track and field replacement at the Wool Bowl is out for bid and a recommendation will be presented in June. Gedde said it was “a mess” and McIlroy said it was “dangerous,” “degraded” and in need of repair.

Goddard High School students presented their rockets for a SystemsGo New Mexico launch happening today and Wednesday in Jal. McIlroy said it was “worth the trek” for a “thrilling, thrilling experience.” According to the launch schedule, Roswell High School and Lake Arthur will also be launching rockets, along with 13 other schools.

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.

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