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Open enrollment set for charter school

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Yasine Armstrong, left, suggested discussion and decisions on dates for the Sidney Gutierrez Middle School student selection lottery — for the existing middle school and upcoming elementary expansion — be tabled for a later date. Governing council members Michael Taylor and Bill Wolf, from left, are also pictured. (Alison Penn Photo)

The 2020-2021 open enrollment period for Sidney Gutierrez Middle School was decided recently by the school’s governing council.

At the governing council’s Nov. 8 meeting, discussions on student lottery dates — for the middle school and a planned elementary school expansion — were tabled, as was discussion of the open enrollment period for the elementary expansion.

The elementary expansion was approved by the Roswell Independent School District last year.

At a meeting on Oct. 14, the governing council decided the official school name, to encompass the elementary expansion and existing middle school, will be “Sidney Gutierrez Academy” with the tagline “a NM Public Charter School,” according to that meeting’s minutes.

Prospective new students are chosen, after applying, through a randomized lottery process in a public setting, usually once a year, for the middle school. The school’s website specifies that the school “may have more than one open enrollment period at the discretion of the governing council.”

There are 66 sixth- to eighth-grade slots in the middle school. The elementary school is planning to serve 130 K-5 students.

Enrollment

At a Nov. 8 meeting, Principal Joe Andreis said open enrollment, for receiving applications, usually starts when students return from winter break in January, and lasts for 15 calendar days. The lottery is generally later held in the spring.

Governing Council President Bill Wolf, Vice President Yasine Armstrong, Secretary Shawna Perry and members Dr. Michael Taylor and Kelly Smith were present for the Nov. 8 meeting and a training workshop that was held at the school, at 69 Gail Harris Blvd.

The governing council voted that the window for middle school applications will be Jan. 7-22. Andreis said applications must be hand-delivered, received by mail or postmarked by Jan. 22.

He said applications are not submitted electronically. The middle school applications are available on the school’s website at www.sgms.us/.

Andreis said receipts for applications are being looked into, as well as using a post office box to receive them, as a more secure method, instead of having them sent to the school.

Advertisements for the open enrollment window will be published in English and Spanish in the Daily Record in the next two months and will be on the website, the governing council decided.

Armstrong suggested keeping the middle school enrollment as is. And also, considering having open enrollment and the lotteries for both schools at a later time. Taylor was in favor of having the enrollment times separate for the middle and elementary schools.

For other schools statewide, Andreis said it is common to have a “continuous” open window, but schools with waiting lists often shorten their window for receiving applications to the minimum. He said there could be one night of drawing, for both elementary and middle schools.

Armstrong moved to table the lottery date discussion and Taylor was the second. She added there “might be value” in having both schools’ lotteries as early as February. She suggested the governing council could talk about it in December and the council unanimously approved her motion.

Lease

First United Methodist Church’s congregation shared with Armstrong that they are interested in continuing a relationship with the school through a potential lease for the elementary school to co-occupy their building at 200 N. Pennsylvania Ave.

Armstrong said an under-negotiation lease payment of $5,500 per month is being considered for the 11,713 square feet of space for the elementary school. She said this rate is higher than the current middle school facility leased from the city of Roswell, but is lower than what charter schools pay statewide.

Some improvements will be needed for “educational occupancy standards,” Armstrong said. The council unanimously voted to table a vote on the lease.

Andreis said he wants a risk assessment done at the building for insurance and security purposes by Poms & Associates Insurance Brokers, Inc. for New Mexico Public Schools Insurance Authority. He said items to be considered would be the playground and how the parking lot will be used, as well as securing doors, cameras, intercoms, entrances and exits.

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