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RISD board postpones vote on new social studies texts

Action to determine which social studies textbooks would be used in Roswell Independent School District schools starting this fall was postponed because only four of the five members of the Roswell Independent School District were present at Tuesday’s meeting.

Board President Hope Morales explained that with the possibility of the results being tied for both the elementary and secondary school choices, it would be better to wait until Board member James Edwards could participate in next month’s regular meeting.

At one point, Morales asked that everyone “keep it respectful.”

Materials reviewed are from IMPACT Social Studies, McGraw-Hill Education and myWorld Interactive, Savvas Learning Company, which used to be known as Pearson K-12 Learning.

Three residents, as well as several instructors who helped evaluate materials, spoke to the board about the elementary school texts. As a group, they leaned further toward the Saavas products.

Margaret Rodriguez said she found the Saavas selection “very refreshing” and conducive to helping children “love America.”

McGraw-Hill’s material is more compatible with a “Socratic form of teaching,” she also noted.

This style is meant to foster dialogue between teachers and students, with the teacher asking their students many open-ended questions and, in turn, allowing them to ask their teacher questions, according to the Institute for Learning and Teaching at Colorado State University.

“There’s nothing in this book (Saavas) you’d have parents upset about,” said Anna Tew, another resident.

She also gave kudos and as an example pointed to a book section that explained why some Native Americans preferred the term “indigenous” while others used “tribe.”

Tew said she didn’t see a Spanish-language version of the McGraw-Hill book, but one of the teachers later said that version of the text does indeed exist.

The group of residents expressed more enthusiasm overall about the Saavas material. Residents who reviewed the books were partial to Saavas as well.

The instructors preferred the McGraw-Hill products for elementary students, however.

Opinions, especially those expressed by instructors, weren’t always cut-and-dry. A couple of them explained to board members how they used sections from both texts at various times as well as additional resources to instruct their students.

One of them explained how one of the texts has more detail about some local industries, specifically oil and cattle, than another. So while the instructor used that book when they were teaching about that specific topic, they jumped to the other book when it was time to move to the next topic, for example.

Another instructor said they thought the mix of visual materials was wider-ranging in the McGraw-Hill book than in Saavas. Board member Jack Cheney said that he disagreed with that assertion.

“I see real-world pictures in both. I see cartoons in both,” Cheney said.

He also said that one of the books seemed to have more of an identifiable political slant than the other. Board member Ryan French also said he noticed that.

Board member Hilda Sanchez said she trusted the teachers’ recommendation and would support it.

A student will perform better academically when they can “bring their full self to the table,” Sanchez said.

It was noted during the meeting that residents weren’t asked to consider such factors as ease of use and how well the texts each integrate with other educational resources, which is something teachers would seek when choosing instructional materials.

Board members opted to not start discussing the texts for older students after the lengthy discussion and apparent stalemate between board members about the texts for younger grades.


Early College High School students in Hangar 84 Robotics began participating in robotic competitions about five years ago. But a visit by group members — and their robot — is still a memorable experience at board meetings.

Also highly attention-getting: when Leprino Foods presented the group with a big check for $10,000. The board will recognize the company for its donation when they meet in June.

Two other donations to Hangar 84 were recognized Tuesday by the board. Each was for $1,000 and earmarked for the group's competition-related costs. One donation came from the Fraternal Order of Eagles #3187 and the other was from Featherstone Development Corp.

Surveillance video policy

Board members approved changes to the video surveillance policy. The original version allowed for the erasure of most videos after two weeks under many circumstances. Which employees have access to the recordings is further clarified in the updated version, such as only school administrators and designated school officials or staff members, for example.

Valedictorian dispute

There was no board vote or announcement about the legal dispute over a Goddard High School senior who had expected to be valedictorian, but likely won’t be because of a change in how credit for certain course offerings counts.

New meeting day

The board voted to switch its current regular meeting day from the second Tuesday to the second Monday of each month. Morales said there would be a “period of education” about the change before it happens.

Airport Advisory Commission hears both good and bad news

Chaves County Manager Bill Williams announced at the end of the Airport Advisory Commission meeting on Tuesday that Chaves County might be able to secure up to $4 million in state funding for infrastructure additions to the southeast side of the airfield.

This is a location of the airport property that would suit future development and the addition of infrastructure — including water and sewer — would help attract businesses to locate or relocate to the airport, according to officials.

Commission Chair Bud Kunkel commented that if such an event were to happen, it would be a “significant step forward.”

Kunkel also noted that the original amount was $5 million.

In October 2022, the commissioners recommended that a capital outlay award of $5 million be used to complete water line upgrades and carry out other infrastructure improvements, according to past reporting.

Later, Kunkel cautioned that the latest news still “isn’t a done deal.”

Roswell city attorney Hess Yntema said efforts to bring the airport into full compliance with the U.S. Transportation Security Agency are continuing.

In April, the Roswell City Council committed to making more than $2.8 million in improvements to the Roswell Air Center and to pay a fine of $20,000 for security violations that federal officials discovered at the airport from early 2020 to late 2021.

Yntema also said the proposed Roswell-Chaves County Joint Powers Agreement that allows for dual control of the airport is on hold until the TSA agreement is more clearly defined.

In March, it was thought the city and county could have reached an agreement for operating the airport together as soon as this fall.

It was also announced during the meeting that flights to and from Phoenix might not resume until at least January. It was reported in March that American Airlines had planned to pause direct flights to Phoenix for a few months.

In other business:

Reporting to EPA: The commissioners recommended entering into a five-year contract for monitoring and reporting to the Environmental Protection Agency about the airport’s Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan.

Strategic plan update: Requests for Proposals for a Roswell Air Center strategic plan are being sought once again. The submission deadline for responses is May 23. “If you don't have a plan, you don't really know where you are headed,” Kunkel emphasized.

Building lease: Also recommended by commissioners is a lease with BadLand Saints for the use of Building 734. The motorcycle club intends to use the space for meetings and motorcycle maintenance.

New Mexico officials: FEMA delays lead to mistrust among wildfire victims
Members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation are criticizing federal emergency managers for missing deadlines as residents seek recovery assistance following the largest wildfire in the state's recorded history

ALBUQUERQUE — Members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation are criticizing federal emergency managers for missing deadlines as residents seek recovery assistance following the largest wildfire in the state’s recorded history.

It has been a year since the U.S. Forest Service sparked the blaze after two prescribed-burn operations meant to clear dead and overgrown vegetation went awry. Hundreds of homes were destroyed along with the livelihoods of many rural residents who are now bracing for another season of post-fire flooding.

U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández and U.S. Sens. Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Luján wrote in a letter sent Wednesday to FEMA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that the agencies need to finalize regulations for doling out nearly $4 million in recovery funds to families and businesses.

Without the final rules, they say justice for victims is being delayed, resulting in confusion and uncertainty for residents.

The lawmakers also said FEMA has missed a number of self-imposed deadlines, and that has deepened mistrust with the community.

“Every day that passes without compensation to the victims delays their ability to begin rebuilding after losing so much," the letter states. "We ask that you put yourself into the shoes of those who’ve waited more than a year after the fire started.”

FEMA opened its regional claims offices to the public in recent weeks, and the director, Angela Gladwell, has vowed that her staff will “be here until the job is done and every claimant receives the compensation they're due.”

Regional FEMA officials did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment about the lawmakers' letter or the timing for finalizing the regulations.

The New Mexico officials indicated that the delay was related to reconsideration of provisions that deal with compensation for trees that were burned on private property and compensation for risk reduction. They have argued the language was a holdover from a different catastrophe that affected suburban homes, not an economy based on forest.

“We reiterate the importance of removing these caps. It is vitally important that our communities are able to begin restoring their lands and begin mitigation efforts to protect their homes and properties from future flooding or fire,” the letter reads.

Leger Fernández and the two senators requested that FEMA and Homeland Security provide an update, saying many victims still are without permanent homes and the anticipated flooding this summer will make matters worse.

Fire danger also remains high across parts of New Mexico despite above-average snowpack in the higher elevations. Red flag warnings prompted by strong winds and dry conditions were issued for much of the state Wednesday, as crews were battling fires around Mora and Sapello near the burn scar as well as in other parts of New Mexico.

The National Park Service on Wednesday cancelled its plans for a prescribed fire at El Malpais National Monument, citing the deteriorating weather conditions.

No attacks amid social media threat on schools

Despite a Snapchat message promising widespread violence at unspecified schools and at a popular grocery store chain, Wednesday came and went in Roswell with no violence or evidence of any planned mass shooting reported locally.

“We didn't locate anybody with guns. It seemed to be pretty much business as usual,” Chaves County Undersheriff Charles Yslas said.

The New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management confirmed a Roswell student received the message Tuesday warning of an imminent attack on a school and an Albertsons grocery store. Students in other districts across the state, including in Alamogordo, subsequently got similar messages. It comes amid a rash of mass shootings in public places that have now become commonplace across the nation.

The uptick in security came after a Snapchat message cautioned people that on May 10, 2023, at 2 p.m., “the biggest school shooting in history” would be carried out by the post's author and 17 other people. The message went on to make a passing reference to a bomb going off at 6 p.m. and a mass shooting at an Albertsons, a chain of grocery stores that has two locations in Roswell.

No mention was made in the post of Roswell, nor has there been any known evidence that any area schools were the intended targets. Nonetheless, in a city that in 2014 experienced a mass shooting at the Berrendo Middle School and where gun violence is commonplace, authorities did not take any chances.

“I can tell you, we are taking the threat serious and we would rather prepare and have nothing happen, then assume it’s just simple threats and not be prepared,” Yslas said.

Deputies responded by marshaling their resources, keeping those who worked the night shift on duty longer and instructing those on the morning shift come in early. As a result, Yslas said, the Sheriff's Office had three to four times the manpower deployed than they typically do that time of day.

“We had our detectives out. They were in unmarked vehicles. We just utilized everybody. The sheriff was out at the schools. I was out at the schools. All my lieutenants were out at the schools,” Yslas explained.

He added deputies would remain at the schools throughout the day to ensure calm.

“We will continue to monitor the schools throughout the day to include the release times, lunch times, and things like that,” Yslas added.

Other agencies were also out in force to ensure students went about the day free of harm. The Roswell Police Department and a host of other agencies were out in larger than usual numbers.

“We've had representatives with Chaves County Sheriff's (Office), State Police, Game and Fish, Livestock agents. Anyone with what we would say would be a law enforcement background has helped out and pitched in today just to kind of monitor,” said RISD Superintendent Brian Luck, who sent his two children, one in eighth grade and another in high school, to school today.

But for many, the boost in security was not enough. Luck said Wednesday Roswell Schools saw absences skyrocket upward to 55% of their students, depending on the school.

“My child did not go to school today. God is our protector, but using wisdom,” Megan Creighton, a Roswell parent, said in a Facebook comment.

Those who did attend classes expressed confidence the day would pass without incident, though slowed down by the increased precautions.

“The police and I know the school will keep us safe,” said Epiifania Gallo, a junior at Roswell High School.

South of Roswell, schools within the Dexter Consolidated School District asked for, and received, assistance from deputies. Yslas said police within the local communities of Hagerman and Lake Arthur likely were keeping an eye on schools within their jurisdictions.

No word on who sent out the Snapchat message. The New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management said an 18-year-old woman in Broward County, Florida, sent out a similar message last week in that state.

However, David Lienemann, public information officer with the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said he could not confirm the woman was the one who sent the message received by the Roswell student.