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Alleged Working Conditions in Silver Schools
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Author:  SMB [ Sun Jul 13, 2014 5:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Alleged Working Conditions in Silver Schools

As a teacher for seventeen years in the Silver Consolidated School District, I often disagreed with administrators. Teachers do that. I was never afraid to voice my disagreement and never feared retribution. There was a dialog, and the students, the institution of learning and the community benefited from it. I saw most administrators putting in long hours and giving their hearts and souls to what they did. They acted in what they saw to be the best interests of the students and District employees and they acted without a personal agenda. Most treated employees, students and community members with respect.

The past month has brought me into contact with several District employees who tell of recent experiences very different from mine. They do, however, have some things in common with one another. All feel they have been treated unfairly. Most are women. Many say they have spoken up to an administrator when they thought something was wrong. One, according to others in attendance, simply asked a question regarding a program. Some tell of having been required to compromise their professional ethics or break a law in order to do what an administrator had told them to do. All report having been railed at, humiliated in front of their peers or students, threatened with digging up “dirt” on them to be made public, and/or subjected to a continued environment of hostility and intimidation. Some have lost their jobs; others have chosen to leave voluntarily rather than continue under these conditions. Those remaining in the District are facing a the new school year with dread and anxiety instead of the excitement they usually have felt.

Not every teacher is a stellar teacher. Not every teacher has a flawless teaching record. We are a human lot, but the vast majority of teachers that I have encountered in my years of teaching are doing their best and they welcome help. They want to be better teachers because they believe in the value of public education, and they genuinely like teaching. Whether struggling, average or stellar, every employee and every student deserves to be treated with respect and fairness. Treatment of each individual needs to be consistent within the prescribed policies and in accordance with the law, and this is a very minimalist view of acceptable administrative behavior.

Rather than supporting good teachers in what they are already doing and providing training for teachers who are less successful, it appears that teachers here...both successful teachers and ones who need help..are being targeted for their beliefs and their willingness to question what they are being told to do. Rather than helping teachers improve in an atmosphere of supported professional development, teachers are being demeaned and bullied in a system of administration designed to suppress and control through fear and intimidation.

This is longer than what I would have liked it to be, but most real issues can’t be expressed in a sound bite or two. I am concerned for the well-being of those who continue to work in the schools here in all positions, and I am concerned for what this means for the students. I am asking our community to simply be more involved. Attend Board meetings. The next one is Thursday, July 17, at the District Offices at 2810 N. Swan. Know who your School Board member is and what they bring to the table. Know how your money is being spent. Consider serving on the Board. Keep an eye on one of the most important things that happens in any community: the education of our children.

Author:  spiritsusan [ Mon Jul 14, 2014 11:17 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alleged Working Conditions in Silver Schools

Eloquently stated, SMB!

Author:  T-bird-Rick [ Mon Jul 14, 2014 2:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alleged Working Conditions in Silver Schools

Good to read thoughtful, insightful presentation of facts. I totally agree - our children are the future and this most precious a resource has been habitually ignored. Teaching is not easy in today's society because many parents are overwhelmed, indifferent, or too busy trying to put food on the table. Teachers are todays parents in many cases. They need all the support we can give them. Who would ague against that???

Author:  SMB [ Mon Jul 14, 2014 7:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Silver City School Board Position Open for District 5

Silver Consolidated Schools placed a legal notice in the Silver City Daily Press on Thursday, July 10, announcing a board vacancy for District 5, which includes Precincts 1,2,6,11,31 and 35. This area includes (but is not limited to) Cliff, Gila and Wind Canyon. This position was formerly held by Debbie Eggleston, who resigned. The new member will be appointed by the board from the applicants and will serve the remainder of Eggleston's term, ending February 3, 2015. Applications are currently being accepted at the District Office building at 2810 N Swan St., phone (575) 956-2000. Applicants must submit a letter expressing interest in the Board position and their qualifications for the position. Applications will be accepted no later than 4:30 P.M. on Tuesday, July 22, 2014.

The basic requirements are as follows:
*Be a registered voter
*Be 18 years of age or older
*Not be a convicted felon
*Physically reside in the school board district for which the individual is a candidate
*Physically reside in in the school board district to be represented at the time the SCS Board of Education votes on the proclamation acknowledging the upcoming election.

I'm not sure how significant the last item is in an appointed and interim position, but a call to the Silver Consolidated Schools District Office should clarify it for anyone interested.

Author:  c breen-lee [ Tue Jul 15, 2014 7:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alleged Working Conditions in Silver Schools

Excellent editorial SMB. Gillian Sherwood wrote another one that was in Monday's Daily Press. A must read.

Author:  SMB [ Tue Jul 15, 2014 9:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alleged Working Conditions in Silver Schools

Gillian Sherwood, a teacher who was terminated from Stout Elementary this past school year, has a well-written and remarkably restrained letter to the editor in the Silver City Daily Press (Monday, July 14) in which she draws a detailed picture of what the current superintendent, the board, and one of the two principals brought with the superintendent have done and allegedly done to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation in the schools. Lon Streib, the current superintendent, is most recently from Sundance, Wyoming, where he appears to have left a similar legacy of discord, fear and turmoil behind him. In a brief online search, I found that there, too, a respected principal was perceived by many to have been forced out, numerous solid teachers resigned, and an atmosphere of intimidation seems to have been the administrative style. Allegations of nepotism point to Mary Streib and Dave and Beth Lougee having been hired there, as they were here. Below are a number of letters, articles and board minutes from Crook County Schools indicating the conditions wrought by Mr. Streib's style of administration. I also have a copy of a petition calling for Mr. Streib's resignation as superintendent in Crook County and citing reasons similar to those laid out by Gillian Sherwood in her letter to the Daily Press. Until I can verify its origin and whether or not it was ever circulated, I won't include its text.

Article announcing Mr. Streib's resignation (for personal reasons) from the Crook Co. School District amid allegations

Letter from Crook County Board member to editor, although somewhat in defense this reveals the tone in the district

Josie Pearson, school board candidate and former teacher who resigned, makes a statement re conditions in school district

Resignation of Kathy Hood, elementary principal
Reference May 2012 Minutes - Crook County School District #1, available online

A letter to the Sundance Times from Shelby Gill, who resigned from the Crook Co. schools citing Mr. Streib’s lack of respect for teachers

Sharon Bookwalter

Author:  SMB [ Tue Jul 15, 2014 5:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alleged Working Conditions in Silver Schools

Picketing went well today with lots of honks, vee signs, and thumbs up...I'm assuming they were thumbs. It's hard to tell through tinted windows. There were 12 to 15 people who came to carry signs at one time or another. We have been picketing to raise community awareness of the problems in the Silver Schools, to show support for staff, students and parents, and to keep the board aware that we are watching. Come join us next time! There will be picketing again outside the District Offices at 2810 N. Swan St. on Thursday, July 17, from 4 P.M. to 6 P.M., when the school board meeting begins. The board meeting has been moved to the Little Theater at Silver High, at the corner of Silver St. and 32nd St.


Author:  SMB [ Thu Jul 17, 2014 8:31 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alleged Working Conditions in Silver Schools

Yesterday I spoke with a woman, Josie Pearson, who retired from the Crook County School District in Sundance, WY, after over thirty years of teaching. She is the one who ran for and won a seat on the school board after retiring. She said she had a few more years in her, but refused to continue to work with a superintendent so corrupt and evil [her choice of adjectives] as Lon Streib. I asked her if the petition that I had acquired was actually circulated there in Sundance, and she said it had been and had also been presented to their board, which chose to ignore it.

I found the similarities of concerns there to concerns here more than alarming...such things as forced resignations of principals and teachers, wanton spending of tax payer money and bullying of personnel. Mrs. Pearson reported that Crook County is still working to undo the damage done by the tone set by Mr. Streib and by the decisions made during his service. In our conversation, Mrs. Pearson described a situation under Streib's poor leadership as one in which the board appeared to work for him, rather than the other way around. She saw him as cultivating loyalty in chosen employees through inclusion in lavish trips, raises, increments, and benefits, all at taxpayers expense. This appears to many of us to be the case here.

Below is the petition from Crook County. Please forgive any errors in the format.


Title of Petition:
The Immediate Dismissal from Employment of Superintendent Lon Streib
from Crook County School District #1.
Petition for: Crook County School District #1 School Board addressed to such members of the
governing board and leadership of this school district.
We, the undersigned, sign this Petition to demand immediate resignation and/or dismissal of
Superintendent Lon Streib for the following reasons:
It has come to the attention of the citizens of Crook County that the current superintendent, Lon
Streib, has acted with conduct that violates specific state statutes/policies as set forth by the
Wyoming School Board Association and the Wyoming Department of Education; specifically #1,
#2, #4 and #6.
1. incompetency;
2. neglect of duty;
4. insubordination;
6. failure to perform duties in a satisfactory manner;
“Difficult Personnel Decisions: Doing What is right the Right Way – Dismissal, Suspension, Termination”,
Wyoming School Board Association
Mr. Streib exhibits behaviors which also violate Wyoming State Statute 9-13-103.
9-13-103. Use of title and prestige of public office.
(a) No public official, public member or public employee shall use his office or position for his
private benefit.
(b) As used in this section, "private benefit" means the receipt by the public official, public
member or public employee of a gift which resulted from his holding that office.
Behavior, actions and instances which can be sighted specifically include but are not limited to:
• consistent unethical practices of misappropriating school resources,
• consistent unethical practices of bullying and harassing administrators forcing
• consistent unethical practices of bullying and harassing teachers forcing resignation,
• lack of effort and action to protect children in classroom environments where students are
subject to bullying by a teacher,
• continued disregard for and breaking of school district policies and state statutes.
As per the Crook County School District #1Strategic Plan Mission Statement: “Crook County
School District #1 creates and sustains learning communities which prepare each student to
morally and ethically live, work, and learn successfully in a changing 21st century.”
The citizens of Crook County support excellence in our schools and do not feel the current
Crook County School District #1 Superintendent possesses the capacity to progressively,
creatively and proactively move our children, schools and district forward modeling high moral
and ethical behavior. The citizens also believe the superintendent does not encompass the
capacity to formulate consistent, ethical, moral, supportive or unbiased decisions.
As stated, we, the undersigned, file this petition to demand for immediate resignation and/or
dismissal of Superintendent Lon Streib.

Author:  justin wecks [ Thu Jul 17, 2014 1:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alleged Working Conditions in Silver Schools

I agree completely with your assessment of a school district's obligation to its employees to train and support them, SMB. That is clearly not the intention of the current administration, who appears to view non-tenured teachers as scapegoats and "examples" to keep the rest of the district in line. The thing is, our district doesn't need to be kept in line. We have a long history of overcoming the challenges of poverty, isolation, and domestic violence to compete at the highest level with the rest of the state. While administration certainly has played a role in keeping us competitive with, say, Los Alamos, it is the dedication of the district's staff that ultimately is responsible. This district was not broken when Streib was hired, but he and Mr. Lougee came here acting as if we were the worst district in the state. They haven't asked questions, haven't listened to or collaborated with staff and the community, haven't bothered to take a few minutes to look around them and see that this district was not in crisis. They came in wielding a club, when all that was needed was a little tweaking and some gentle support to nurture a staff that had seen their pay frozen for five years and that was under attack by a secretary of education who insists on labeling them as failures, despite all evidence to the contrary. Mr. Streib, Mr. Lougee, and, it appears, Mr. Petty, have bought into this myth of a failing public school system, and are more than happy to join New Mexico's governor and secretary of education in laying the blame at the feet of the very group they should be supporting: teachers. The non-renewal (firing) of three quality teachers in the district is clear evidence to support this accusation. None of the non-renewed teachers has ever received a bad evaluation. None of the three teachers were ever, at any point in their employment in Silver Schools, reprimanded or told of any deficiency that needed to be corrected. If their performance was lacking, why weren't they ever told? If there was a deficiency, why didn't their principals give them training and support to correct those deficiencies? If the district narrative is to be believed, I see a serious and alarming failure of leadership in their scenario.

There is an alternative scenario that I find more likely. All three non-renewed teachers (two from Stout and one from Jose Barrios) were active union members. The two from Stout were interviewed as part of the district (tax payer funded) investigation into the concerns and allegations brought forward by staff against Mr. Lougee. They answered honestly, and their testimony corroborated some of the concerns and allegations. While the teacher from Barrios had nothing to do with the Lougee investigation, she was openly critical of an expensive literacy program the district purchased: Literacy First. This program is widely viewed as laughable by district teachers, who find it not so much a "program" as a group of loosely organized best practices with which they are already familiar. This teacher made the mistake of thinking her professional opinion would be valued, and that the district should be informed that their expensive program may not, in fact, be beneficial to the district's teachers. In this scenario, the three teachers were fired as an example: don't criticize, don't belong to the union, keep your head down and your mouth shut. This is the scenario our local and state teachers' unions (SCEA and NEA-NM) find more believable. This is why SCEA filed a grievance claiming retaliation for union membership and activity as the underlying cause for these three non-renewals. This is why Leslie Fritz with NEA-NM is pursuing whistle-blower protection for the two teachers at Stout.

School Board President Trent Petty apparently has bought into the myth of the failing public school, and he appears to be more than willing to join Mr. Streib and Mr. Lougee in blaming teachers for that failure. He has made this exceedingly clear both in comments made at the May board meeting and in a letter to the editor published in the Daily Press in May. At the May meeting, Petty stated that New Mexico was 50th in the nation in education, and that was unacceptable. He could have pointed out that our district consistently ranks near the top when compared to the rest of the state. He could have taken the opportunity to praise our teachers for their competitive ranking, despite the fact that our poverty rate is higher than most of the communities we rank amongst. He could have pointed out that a ranking of 50th is completely bogus, because of the fact that those rankings are based on state standardized tests that vary greatly in difficulty from state to state. New Mexico happens to have some of the highest standards in the country, while, say, Wyoming happens to have some of the lowest. Instead, he chose to insinuate that our teachers perform at the bottom of the nation. In fact, when adjusted for difficulty, New Mexico ranks somewhere in the middle, not dead last.

Mr. Petty went on to elaborate on his low opinion of teachers in his editorial from May 27th. In addressing the non-renewed teachers, he did not even bother to find out basic facts about the situation, claiming that they were "first-year teachers." Although all three were in their first or second year of teaching with the district, not one of the three is a first-year teacher. In fact, the most experienced of the group, Gillian Sherwood, has 15 years of teaching experience, two masters degrees, and is a level 3 teacher in the state of New Mexico, the highest level achievable. This is a far cry from a "first-year teacher." And, again, Mrs. Sherwood has never, in 15 years, had a bad evaluation, ever been put on any kind of improvement or growth plan, or indeed ever been notified of any problem or deficiency with her teaching. She does, however, happen to be married to the SCEA vice-president.

While Mr. Petty correctly states in his letter that "teacher tenure is a policy that prevents teachers from being fired without just cause," I disagree completely with his assertion that, "even in some cases of blatant irresponsibility, misbehavior or lack of performance, it is very difficult to dismiss a tenured teacher, and the process can be expensive and time consuming." All that is required to remove a "tenured" teacher from their position in the state of New Mexico is a formal notification of a problem with their performance, and an opportunity to receive support from the principal and the district in correcting their deficiencies. If, after a reasonable amount of time and with proper support from the district, a teacher is still unable to perform at the desired level, that teacher can be removed with little recourse. Isn't that as it should be? Shouldn't a person who has put themselves through the expense of teacher certification in order to dedicate their lives to the education of children be given this common courtesy? Why do Mr. Petty, Mr. Streib and Mr. Lougee see the idea of letting a teacher know there is a problem with their teaching and supporting them in finding a solution to the problem as an unjustifiable burden on the district? An administrator should, as SMB points out, absolutely be expected to inform their teachers of expectations, notify them if the expectations are not being met, and support them in attempting to meet those expectations. If, with reasonable time and support, they are unable to meet district performance goals, they can and should be removed from their positions. This is "just cause" for their removal, and I think everybody, including teachers and teachers unions, believe in the right of a district to remove a teacher for just cause. However, what we have in this case is what I refer to as removal for "unjust cause." No bad evaluation, no stated deficiency, no opportunity to improve or change. All three were, in fact, told simply that their non-renewal was because the district was choosing to "move in a new direction." Thank goodness we have a tenure rule in the state of New Mexico that shields teachers with three or more years in the same district from similar unjust firings.

Mr. Petty continues to exhibit his low opinion of teachers with the following statement in his letter to the editor: "It is in the best interest of the school district and in some ways best for the teacher, to not renew a teacher's contract before tenure...rather than possibly terminate employment after reaching tenure." Really, Mr. Petty? It is in the best interest of our school district to not tell a teacher they need to work on some aspect of their teaching? To not offer them help and support in their attempts to serve the children of this community? To not even give them a valid reason for their termination? And somehow, this unjust severance of employment is in the best interest of the three non-renewed women? Please explain to me the logic you used in making this absurd statement, Mr. Petty. Sarah Sosa has a mortgage payment and a toddler at home. Gillian Sherwood has two young boys, and has dedicated the last 15 years of her life to teaching. Serena Murillo is young, dedicated, and loves teaching. After this experience, she is considering leaving the profession she loves because she feels so betrayed by this district. Please, Mr. Petty, explain how robbing these three women of their livelihoods, without one shred of documented reason, is in their best interest. I know three women that would love the opportunity to sit down with you and explain what they feel is in their best interests.

Author:  john galt [ Thu Jul 17, 2014 1:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alleged Working Conditions in Silver Schools

I have been showing up at almost every meeting organized by these courageous teachers. It's too bad that we don't see any of this type of activism with the faculty at WNMU. The contrast is dramatic. As long BOR members are political appointees and can't be recalled then issues with corruption at WNMU cannot be addressed. Great work Silver teachers!!

Author:  SMB [ Thu Jul 17, 2014 7:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alleged Working Conditions in Silver Schools

Hope you were at tonight's school board meeting, John Galt, to see another great attendance by our awesome community, at once diverse and united. Thirty minutes was allowed for community input at the beginning of the meeting with three minutes allowed for each person and seven speaking, including former superintendent Dick Pool. Each addressed the failure of the school district to treat its teachers fairly and abide by its own rules and one questioned the way tax dollars are being spent on what many teachers see as an ineffective reading program brought in by Superintendent Streib. Although there were at least 9 extra minutes, Pool was cut off after three minutes in his demand for fair treatment of all employees, citing an individual who had come to him for help. In over 25 years of attending board meetings, this is the first one that I recall not allowing additional time at the end of the meeting for community input. Pool vowed to attend next month and every month thereafter until he was fully heard.

Justin Wecks, former Silver Consolidate Education Association president and former teacher, said that since grievances were not being heard here they would be heard by the State Labor Relations Board, who has found in favor of the aggrieved in similar actions. He told the board that all of this turmoil at tax payers' expense could be avoided if the board would "Please talk to us."

Sharon Bookwalter

Author:  crow [ Thu Jul 17, 2014 9:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alleged Working Conditions in Silver Schools

Sharon, I was glad you spoke up about process and procedures concerning Open Meetings Act and others who brought up various ethics standards. I counted about 125 people in the audience, a few I talked with were their to support the superintendent and principal who's procedures and characters are in question but most of the crowd were expressive in their support of the citizen speakers.

I noticed when it came to community input Superintendent Streib was his usual rude, never looking at the speaker, just shuffling papers and writing things on some of them, not even pretending to listen. At least Board President Trent Petty, he who publicly stated he has "no problem with teachers carrying guns" which at the time I assumed he extended to principles and Superintendents, looked at the speaker and acknowledged their presence.

I was curious about the new lawyer who sat between Petty and Streib and occasionally whispered in his (Petty's) ear; when I finally got home after the Gila River Meeting I looked up the agenda on the schools web site and saw this.


Something is up, further hinted at because the agenda was changed at the beginning of the meeting which shortened considerably the meeting time so as to get to the Executive (Closed) Session. The Open Meetings Act states that the discussion of employees must take place in an Executive (Closed) Session but if the decision is to fire the employee(s) the the firing must be done in an Open Meeting. As for the second reason, a potential employee lawsuit, if that were to really happen than it would become public record.

Author:  SMB [ Sat Jul 19, 2014 8:39 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alleged Working Conditions in Silver Schools

During the community input section of Thursday's board meeting, Emily Aversa...formerly a teacher at Stout Elementary...suggested that the board hold a special session in which to hear from all those who are concerned with what they have seen or heard to be happening in the school district. The board and superintendent seemed to listen indifferently to all community input, and then get back to their agenda. Justin Wecks, former SCEA president and former SCS District teacher, used the SCEA allotted time to ask for fairness and for the board to just talk with the union and the aggrieved. When the board came out of a closed session in which they discussed issues of grievance, they said they would talk with a limited number of SCEA members and their legal representation. I am not certain what this means. Perhaps Justin could comment here if he is comfortable doing so.

The community support at the July board meeting was amazing, with somewhere around 120 people in attendance. I hope that we can continue to give this sort of support to the staff, students and parents over the next several months because they will need continued support for some time. These problems will not be fixed quickly. Those staff and parents who are able to file ethics complaints with the state Public Education Department need to know that the community is watching to assure their fair treatment after they file. As a community we have the power to bear witness to what is done by the board and district administration and to hold them responsible for it. Let's keep an eye on them.


Author:  SMB [ Mon Jul 21, 2014 6:27 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alleged Working Conditions in Silver Schools

I have heard of two people having applied for appointment to the open school board position: Jennifer Yost and Betty Himes. I spoke with Jennifer Yost, but have not confirmed that Betty Himes applied. Both are retired teachers from Silver High. Although I am not familiar with either of their core political beliefs, I know each of them to be fair minded, respectful of the rules and laws and hard working. Both were dedicated teachers. Does anyone know of any other applicants?

Author:  SMB [ Tue Jul 22, 2014 7:09 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alleged Working Conditions in Silver Schools

There is a special Silver Consolidated Schools Board meeting called for tomorrow, Wednesday, July 23, from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM. They did not post an agenda, which I believe violates the District Policy Manual, nor did they announce a purpose. It's open to the public, so, if you feel inclined, please attend. It's important to let them know that we are watching what they do.


Author:  SMB [ Tue Jul 22, 2014 5:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alleged Working Conditions in Silver Schools

The purpose of the special meeting called for Wednesday is to appoint a replacement for Debbie Eggleston, who resigned from the board several weeks ago.

Author:  SMB [ Wed Jul 23, 2014 11:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alleged Working Conditions in Silver Schools

Here is a link to the agenda for tonight's special board meeting to interview and/or select someone to replace Debbie Eggleston. As you can see, four people have turned in letters of interest.

http://www.silverschools.org/common/pag ... mId=708051


Author:  SMB [ Wed Jul 23, 2014 6:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alleged Working Conditions in Silver Schools

Tonight's special meeting was postponed until next week because of an illness in the family of one of the board members and the inability of board applicant Cathy Maxwell to be there. This was according to board members Tony Egan and Trent Petty, who were present. Because of prescribed time restraints, the meeting must be held next week to make the appointment. I believe it is set for Thursday, but we need to keep checking the district website.



Author:  SMB [ Thu Jul 31, 2014 9:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alleged Working Conditions in Silver Schools

Last week the special school board meeting to appoint someone to fill the empty board seat, left by Debbie Eggleston of District 5, was cancelled. It will be held tonight, Thursday, July 31, at 5:30 P.M. in the board room of the district offices at 2810 N. Swan St. Although the public has no input in this nor must the agenda allow for comment, it is important for as many community members as possible to be there. We need to keep an eye on the board.


Author:  SMB [ Thu Jul 31, 2014 5:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alleged Working Conditions in Silver Schools

Tonight's special school board meeting was held as scheduled for the board to appoint a replacement for the District 5 position. Oddly Mr. Petty began the meeting with a warning that any outbursts by those present would result in that person being removed. I have seen no indication of a need for such warning, but it did lend an air of drama to an otherwise routinely bureaucratic proceeding. Letters of application were read from Anthony Gutierrez and Jennifer Yost, both of whom could not be there. Cathy Maxwell and Mike McMillan each did a brief presentation on their qualifications, reasons for being interested in the position and ability to handle contention. Both appeared to be qualified and sincere candidates. Before the vote President Petty and the board thanked all four candidates for their willingness to serve and apologized for the awkwardness of a public discussion of candidates and vote. Board President Trent Petty called for motions of nomination. Tony Egan motioned in favor of Mike McMillan. Chris Arvidson seconded the motion. Neither had much to say as to why they favored him. Arnold Torres motioned in favor of Anthony Gutierrez, but there was no second. The vote was called for by Trent Petty and was unanimous for Mike McMillan. Much to my surprise, I believe that the board selected a very good new member. Congratulations and the best of luck to Mike McMillan! The meeting ended with Trent Petty asking Chris Arvidson to read the board's statement of willingness to talk with two NEA members and their counsel. Inherent is this same document are statements that preclude almost any meaningful discussion from taking place.


Author:  SMB [ Sat Aug 16, 2014 7:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alleged Working Conditions in Silver Schools

In recent letters to the editor in the Daily Press, Tom(?) Hester and Tim Matthes addressed the section of the Open Meetings Act frequently cited indirectly by Trent Petty as the reason why the school board cannot discuss items introduced during citizens's input/inquiry. According to Hester, Matthes and the Act itself, this section does NOT preclude the discussion of new items introduced during citizens's input and not on the agenda. It does, however, specifically preclude making decisions on those items not on the agenda. Petty is either deliberately misusing the Act to suppress discussion or is ignorant of a very important part of his job, which is conducting the board meetings in accordance with law and district policy. The board, superintendent and at least one principal appear willing to do as they please, frequently disregarding law, district policy and the rights of students, parents, community and staff as it suits their purposes. Who will hold them accountable? Come help us picket this week or come to the school board meeting this Thursday, August 21, from 6-8 P.M. I'll post times and locations for picketing later and the location for the board meeting.

New Mexico Open Meetings Act
Section 10-15-1. Formation of Public Policy
F. Meeting notices shall include an agenda containing a list of specific items of business to be discussed or transacted at the meeting or information on how the public may obtain a copy of such an agenda. Except in the case of an emergency, the agenda shall be available to the public at least twenty-four hours prior to the meeting. Except for emergency matters, a public body shall take action only on items appearing on the agenda. For purposes of this Subsection, an “emergency” refers to unforeseen circumstances that, if not addressed immediately by the public body, will likely result in injury or damage to persons or property or substantial financial loss to the public body.

Author:  SMB [ Sun Aug 17, 2014 4:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alleged Working Conditions in Silver Schools

Join us! Picketing Tuesday, August 19, from 4:30 to 6:00 P.M. on Hwy. 180 in front of Burger King and on the opposite side of the highway. We'll be out again on Thursday, August 21, from 4:30 to 6 :00 P.M. in front of the Silver Consolidated District Offices at 2810 N. Swan St. Help us ask where all the money has gone and why teachers are afraid to express their professional opinions on issues that need their input. But most importantly, come show support for the teachers and other staff that work so hard to serve this community. Come help to let the board and superintendent know that this community cares about its schools.


Author:  SMB [ Tue Aug 19, 2014 9:09 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alleged Working Conditions in Silver Schools

Several of my retired friends have commented that they are saddened by the recent turmoil in the public schools but...thank heavens...it’s not their concern. They no longer have kids in school or never did and are relieved to be free from this burden of keeping an eye on the public schools. I am stunned by this disconnect with the importance of public education and it’s effect on the local community and economy. Every time that we need help from the police or fire department, dial 911, check into the hospital, see a doctor, turn on the faucet, plug something into an electrical outlet or trust our car's brakes to a mechanic, we are dealing with the results of someone’s education and that education most probably happened in a public school and very (if not most) often here in Grant County.

The tone and quality of a school system tell us a lot about a community. Anyone moving into a town would be foolish not to take a look at the local educational system whether they had school aged kids or not. The total experience that a child has in school, not just the facts and figures they accumulate, serves to shape the adult they become. Parents' relationships with the school system can help to make them better parents or leave them feeling frustrated and demeaned. Schools are powerful things which are run at the expense of the tax payer. I would think that even if people really didn’t care about the substance of their local schools, they’d at least want to see how their money was being spent.

Schools make a difference. Support what is good for our kids and challenge what is not. Attend the school board meeting this Thursday from 6 to 8 P.M. at the District Offices, 2810 N. Swan St.

Picketing today from 4:30 to 6:00 P.M. on Hwy. 180 in front of Burger King. Let the staff know we care how they are treated. Let the board know we care how they run the district.


Author:  SMB [ Wed Aug 20, 2014 9:00 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alleged Working Conditions in Silver Schools

Picketing Thursday, August 21, at 2810 N. Swan St. in front of the SCS District offices from 4:30 to 6:00 P.M. Board meeting at 6 P.M. Let the board know that we care what they do with our money and what the district and site administrators do to staff and students.

Author:  SMB [ Fri Aug 22, 2014 7:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alleged Working Conditions in Silver Schools

The school board turnout last night was absolutely amazing. Not only was the place packed, but the crowd generated speakers who revealed the depth and breadth of the issues that are damaging to this school district. Frances Vasquez cited chapter and verse from budget reports showing that the board has repeatedly overspent its budget month after month. Kerpow! Kerpow! Kerpow! Like shooting cans off a fence! Amanda Rottman, a teacher who resigned, spoke of her preschool program having been cut even though it was fully funded by a $150,000 noncompetitive renewable grant because she had gotten crosswise with the superintendent's wife, also a district employee. When Ms. Rottman met with Mr. Streib, she reports that he acknowledged the need for the program, the adequacy of funding, and her and the programs good performance ratings. He simply told her he had made his decision. Ms. Rottman showed incredible courage and dignity in her presentation and called Mr. Streib on his failure to look at community members who are speaking to him at meetings. He truly appears to be doodling or dozing off most of the time. Fred Baca addressed the allegedly inappropriate comments made by the principal at Stout to staff members about students, comments both racist and cruelly insensitive regarding disabilities. Dick Pool, the former superintendent, spoke regarding fiscal responsibility. The list of community members with something to say goes on and will continue to at future meetings.

Two school board members (Trent Petty and Tony Egan), the superintendent and district lawyer Ramon Vigil did meet yesterday with the former union president Justin Wecks (who has resigned his teaching position), current co-president Wayne Sherwood and Leslie Fritz (Nea-NM Uniserv representative) regarding the grievances from last year that the board refused to hear. They plan to meet again, and Justin felt that they made progress on the issues.

At last night's meeting, the board began to revise policy, an area of grave concern to me. All the public got to see was the vote. In the thirty some years that I have occasioned board meeting here, this was an unprecedented act. Policy change has always been presented at one meeting with discussion by the board and community input at the end of that meeting. The following month the vote would be taken after community input at the beginning of that meeting.

Of course, the board has stricken the second community input (occurring at the end of a session) from their agendas even though board policy currently on the books has it as part of every regular session.

The board's ability to make and change district policy is one of its greatest powers and it can be used to diminish the powers and rights of staff, students and community.

Thank you everyone who came to show support for one of the most important things that happens in this or any community: the education of its children.


Author:  crow [ Fri Aug 22, 2014 9:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alleged Working Conditions in Silver Schools

Thanks for your coverage of this important issue Sharon. In this photo, on the left, Superintendent Streib, reportedly run out of 2 previous districts, during a typical community input time, always busy busy, too busy to give the speaker the courtesy of at least pretending to listen. In the center is School Board President Trent Petty; he needs to take to heart the issues that teachers and parents are bringing to the Board concerning the actions and attitudes of Streib and his buddy, Stout Principal Lougee.

When I was shown a Confidential Union Memo there were no fewer than 15 grievances from last school year, and now it sounds like more are piling up already from this year.

Stout Principal Lougee taken at the same May Board meeting. The issues aren't going away and the School Board needs to act before they loose all credibility and lawsuits are filed.

Author:  Ski [ Fri Aug 22, 2014 9:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alleged Working Conditions in Silver Schools

It is of the utmost disrespect for a public official to not look at and listen to members of the public during public comment periods. The purpose of public comment periods is to allow decision makers to understand the concerns and wishes of the public they serve. Evidently, Superintendent Streib could give a rat's ass about the public and its concerns and wishes. And School Board President Trent Petty is an accomplice in that gross disrespect by allowing it to happen. Definitely not best practice being practiced here.

Author:  SMB [ Thu Aug 28, 2014 2:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alleged Working Conditions in Silver Schools

There will be a Concerned Citizens meeting to discuss plans for addressing the current problems in the Silver Schools. Please come if you wish to learn more about what is happening that has caused so many people to be outraged. The meeting is Tuesday, September 2, at 6 P.M. in the the Grant County Convention Center.


Author:  SMB [ Thu Sep 04, 2014 2:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alleged Working Conditions in Silver Schools

At the last regular school board meeting, it was announced that there would be a special meeting on September 4 (today) to meet in closed session with the union to continue to hear grievances.

When I checked the agenda this morning, an item not requiring closed session had been added: discussion of the 2014-2015 budget. This does not require a closed session and is open to the public. It also concerns tax payers' money and is very important that it be witnessed by local citizens.

Several of us will be there. If you come, bring a book to read until the closed session is over. Amid rumors of a depleted budget, large amounts spent on renovating the offices of the high school principal and that of the superintendent's wife, a board that has overspent its budget over and over, and teachers' having been told to hold off on supply requests for lack of funds...well, amid the rumors it's a chance to hear some accounting and hopefully some straight talk on money.

The next regularly scheduled board meeting is Thursday, September 18, at 6 P.M.

Author:  SMB [ Sun Sep 07, 2014 10:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alleged Working Conditions in Silver Schools

I have been struggling with how to respond to the special board meeting of this past Thursday, September 4. It doesn't serve any good to rant and make wild undocumented charges even if they are true and the other guy is wrong. So I have tried to sift through the information that I was given, the context in which it was given and what it evoked in me. Objectivity is not an easy thing to attain, and I make no claim to having achieved it, just at valuing it and aiming for it, but I also value instinct and heart. Balance is a bitch.

First the context. Initially this meeting was announced and scheduled to hear grievances. At some later date the presentations on budget and technology were added on. Grievances must be heard in closed session because they involve sensitive issues of personnel in conflict. They are open ended because working toward resolution is a process that needs time. Presentations are finite. They are rehearsed and presented. You know how long they will last. These presentations were open to the public. Special board meetings, by policy, do not allow for public input so the hosts don't have to allow time for that. Presentations at special board meetings are definable time wise. Closed sessions to hear grievances are open ended. They are not definable time wise.

The meeting began at 5 P.M. with the closed session. Those of us wanting to hear the presentations were there early and waited between 2 1/2 and 3 hours to do so. The presentations began around 7:30 P.M. and ended around 9 P.M. As my grandmother used to say, "Seems a little backitty-asswards to me." That's the subjective part of me speaking. Seems that a group interested in welcoming the public and sharing with them information would do so, first, at a regular board meeting that was well announced much ahead of time. Seems they would put the presentations first and take care of closed, open-ended business last, showing respect for the public's time.

Content? Both presentations were clear and well done. Candy Milam, the district CFO, addressed the questioned Special Ed money that the district had to return to the Public Education Department by saying she had negotiated its reduction by about half to $39,263 and that the nearly vanished district cushion of $1.2 million had gone to improve technology. Ben Potts, head of technology, gave a detailed presentation on hardware, systems and software upgrades and acquisitions. Mrs. Milam made it clear that the district's reserve funds, now at only $109,962, were well below the amount suggested by the Public Education Department, which is 4% to 5% of total budget or $956,472 to $1,195,590. She said that not all budgeted money gets spent so that there would probably be some leftover money to add to the reseerve. This statement raised questions for me.

Here's the subjective part: I am always a little skeptical of presentations, especially polished ones. I don't doubt the personal sincerity of either presenter. I do question the guidance they were given and the purpose of doing this. Mr. Petty and Mr. Egan both commented on how this all should put the public's mind at ease to see how everything was so clean and tidy and accounted for. Really? So, what Peter will you rob to put money back in Paul's reserve? Medicaid? Title I? Art? Money to serve homeless students (and we do have them here)? What child's educational pocket will be picked to replace the savings that had been built up over the years and planned for budget to budget?

Mr. Pott's, because he is a man of integrity, made one telling comment. He said that much of what was done in the realm of technology was to bring the district up to technological adequacy for kids to be tested on the computers. It's my understanding that this year is the first that the standards based assessments must be done on computers. He also commented that the children spend about 2 1/2 months in testing (that would be out of a 9 month school year) and that the computer labs are tied up in testing for those periods of time but aren't used much otherwise. He said he would like to see greater use of the labs for other purposes than testing. My reaction...Huh? We spent our emergency reserve on technology that serves largely to test and that gets used intensively only 2 1/2 out of 9 months?

Amen to that, Mr. Potts! I'd like to see use of technology for other purposes than preparing for tests and testing itself. We are now teaching and testing test preparation and knowledge of the testing software. Just a bit backitty-asswards to me.

My subjective take-away is that the current district administration strives to look good rather than be good. Renovated offices, up-to-date technology (How does it actually serve the child?), job descriptions adjusted to provide higher wages for certain jobs, inflated test scores... all about looking good...all held solidly in place with bullying, intimidation and disregard for laws and ethical practices.

And held solidly because we have allowed it to happen here as it did in Sundance, Wyoming. The location is different, but the problems with Lon Streib's administration seem to have been very similar to what we have seen here. No, there were no convictions of wrongdoing, just the stench of abuse of power and a school district left in shambles when he finally resigned.

Author:  SMB [ Wed Sep 10, 2014 7:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alleged Working Conditions in Silver Schools

There is an article in the Sun News online about the Silver Consolidated Schools' budget. I think Susan Dunlap has done a good job of looking more deeply into some of the issues raised by the special meeting of September 4th.


Author:  SMB [ Mon Sep 15, 2014 8:38 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alleged Working Conditions in Silver Schools

It looks like we should have help from some of the union locals on the picket line this month. Come one, come all! Come for as long as you can, half hour or hour or two hours. It all counts!

Picketing Tuesday from 4 P.M. to 6 P.M. on Hwy. 180 E in front of Burger King and on other side of road.

Picketing Thursday from 4 P.M. to 6 P.M. at 2810 N. Swan St. in front of District Office Building and on other side of street.

Regular board meeting this Thursday, September 18, at 6 P.M. in the Silver Consolidated Schools Central Office Building at 2810 N. Swan St. unless they change the venue to a larger space.

Apparently the board will have Candy Milam and Ben Potts do their presentations again on budget and technology. If the pattern for the agenda holds, they will have discarded the second community input that was set out in board policy (without a public board decision or public input). They will sit inattentively while the community speaks during the first and only input session and then get on with their own items. They will not respond, even to direct questions (such response is allowed, but not required, by district policy), and they will not get back to anyone by phone or any other way in response to questions or comments.


Author:  SMB [ Mon Sep 15, 2014 8:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alleged Working Conditions in Silver Schools

Thursday's school board meeting has been moved to the Silver High Little Theater. It is still at 6 P.M. with the work session at 5 P.M.

Author:  Marjen [ Mon Aug 28, 2017 7:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alleged Working Conditions in Silver Schools

I realize this is an old thread, but I am just now moving to Silver City and looking to substitute teach for a few months. I am a former K-12 teacher and went on to work in social services and study social science in graduate school. I would like to know what the most concerning issues are in Silver City schools, the level of parental involvement, administrator effectiveness etc. Thanks for any feedback.

Author:  crow [ Tue Aug 29, 2017 11:00 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alleged Working Conditions in Silver Schools

Marjen, just to filll in the 3 year gap for you, the problematic superintendent and principal have been replaced as have many of their supporters on the school board so much has improved. Bear in mind that as New Mexico suffers from an imposed, manipulated austerity the schools suffer from under-funding coupled with the grading system from a burdensome student testing that forces teachers to teach for the test and sends millions of dollars out of state to the corporations that do the testing.

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