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RISD custodial staff raises addressed at school board

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Addressing the Roswell Independent School District school board, during the public comment segment of the board meeting on Tuesday, Alberto “Albert” Cruz asks why custodial staff have not been receiving a 6% raise required by the state. (Alison Penn Photo)

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No action taken on superintendent evaluation or salary

A concern was raised at the Roswell Independent School District school board meeting that custodial, maintenance and security staff were not being paid additional 6% raises approved by the New Mexico Legislature earlier this year.

Raises

Alberto “Albert” Cruz, head of maintenance at Mesa Middle School, said during general comment and inquires that the custodial staff received their payroll at the state-mandated amount (from House Bill 2), which was effective July 1, for only three pay periods.

“We were told at one of our union meetings that the district was thinking of taking away the 6% raise,” Cruz said. “Then without explanation from administration, the 6% raise was taken out of our paycheck. This action by the district suggests this was done by the district in retaliation — for not accepting what was offered to us in union negotiations.”

Another public speaker, Raul Castro, identified himself as union steward for the local CWA (Communications Workers of America) 7070.

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Castro said the opinions on the raises were not representative of the union, and the individuals speaking during the meeting spoke of their own accord.

Cruz said the action of giving and then taking away the state funding was “unfair” and caused “hardship” for the custodians, as well as the maintenance and security departments.

On the same topic, former school board member and current Roswell City Councilor Juan Oropesa said an “injustice” had been done and the community had a “right to know” about why these decisions were made and who made them.

In a follow-up interview with the Daily Record, Superintendent Dr. Ann Lynn McIlroy explained that there were negotiations and the 6% salary increases — two different times — were not ratified by the CWA.

When the collective bargaining agreement was refused, McIlroy said the district did not have a choice and had to return to the previous agreement and salary schedule — until an agreement is made. She said the raises were paid out in good faith before potential ratification.

McIlroy added there were renegotiations on Nov. 8 and another union meeting was slated Tuesday, and she was unaware of the outcome. If an agreement was reached, McIlroy said the pay would be retroactive to the effective date of July 1.

In other business, the board approved the second readings of 13 policies.

Evaluation

After the action items and reports, the board went into executive session after 8 p.m. to discuss the agenda item listed as the superintendent’s evaluation and salary. They came back into open session at 9:28 p.m. and adjourned shortly after. School Board President Alan Gedde announced that no action was taken in closed session and the board would also not vote in open session on the matter.

During public comments, Bobby Villegas, Oropesa, Orlando Padilla and Joe Luna asked the board to let the incoming board members make decisions related to McIlroy’s contract. Oropesa said he believed it was “appropriate” for the current board to evaluate the superintendent’s performance.

On Nov. 5, voters elected Hope Morales and Hilda Sanchez to serve Districts 2 and 4, respectively, on the school board. These positions are currently held by Dr. Kathleen Pittman and Ruben Sanchez. Morales and Hilda Sanchez will be sworn in to begin serving in 2020.

Luna questioned further if some of the superintendent’s actions showed equity for students. Some of his other comments covered the implementation of the late-start Wednesdays, changes to zone exemptions and the district-owned Chevrolet Suburban — though it has no logo on it — used by McIlroy, that he alleged was at the expense of student activities.

Padilla and Luna listed difficulties in the last year, from personnel restructuring to old Wool Bowl turf being found at the homes of the superintendent and Brian Byrd, RISD assistant superintendent of talent management. Padilla and Luna said disregard was shown for RISD students and their families, as well as district personnel.

“This superintendent believes she is beyond reproach,” Padilla said. “Her leadership is misinformed, short-sighted, vindictive and lacking in the true value for our community. We need real leadership. School board, hear our voice, please. Hear our pleas. Do the right thing and change the downward spiral shift of the trajectory of our school district. …”

When asked for a response to the public comments, McIlroy wrote the following statement and clarified that “we” means “everyone” at RISD.

“We are proud of the great work being done for the benefit of all students in RISD,” McIlroy wrote. “I am equally proud of the progress we are seeing on a daily basis in each of our schools.”

The mother of a RISD high school student read a letter asking the school board to address bullying, including verbal bullying, and the lack of safety it causes at RISD.

Many of the public speakers, board members and district personnel thanked veterans for their service in light of Veterans Day on Monday. Veterans thanked the district for all of the many Veterans Day events hosted by the schools. Current board members were thanked for their service and the new ones were congratulated for being elected.

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

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