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Superintendent's News

Posted: November 13, 2020

Evaluation

In his weekly message, Supt. Elder talks about his first few months on the job.

I sat down with the Board of Education earlier this week for an informal evaluation. My bosses wanted to know how things are going. Pretty good, I was happy to report, thanks largely to the people I work with and the students I work for. This could have been a really rough first four months on the job. Oh, don’t get me wrong. It hasn’t been easy running a large urban school district in the middle of a viral virus, dwindling finances, and unimaginable challenges. And yet, here we are – teaching and learning and paying our bills and making sure our kids are safe and fed and supported.

At times, I know many of you feel overwhelmed, and maybe even a bit deflated, trying to do your job in such difficult conditions, so I want to remind you – as I did the board – just how well we’re doing, all things considered. Here’s some of what I shared with board members.

First and foremost, our job is to provide a quality education for all of our students, and we have taken steps to do just that. We started with a comprehensive Reentry Plan that details teaching and learning in the red (remote), yellow (hybrid) and green (in-person). We are constantly adjusting and stretching the plan to meet the needs of our students. This includes the expansion of eCademy, which is now the largest school in the state in terms of enrollment, and the implementation of Special Ed in the Red, an initiative to provide in-person education services in small groups to our most vulnerable students with disabilities. 

We have purchased online curriculum and e-books to support remote learning, targeted attendance issues through coaching, wellness checks and home visits, and worked with our community partners to provide childcare, activities, tutoring, and other family services to support learning at home.  

Whether in-person or from a distance, we are committed to making our classrooms culturally and linguistically responsive. We recently rolled out a new equity plan that outlines a dozen steps to achieving racial and education equity and reducing barriers for students and parents. This includes more culturally responsive instruction, improved hiring practices, better resource allocation and access, improved school climates, and professional development. In fact, our principals have already started anti-racism training.

Developing strong, trustworthy relationships has been central to our early successes. We work closely with the New Mexico Public Education Department, our state lawmakers, other school districts in New Mexico and across the nation through the Council of the Great City Schools. I seek guidance and advice when needed, offer suggestions and support where I can. These are strong, mutually beneficial relationships that have proven invaluable as we navigate the educational landscape. 

Needless to say, some of our most important relationships are with each other, so we are finding ways to better support our teachers and schools by providing ongoing training, technical assistance, resources, and guidance.

And we’ve done all of this on a really tight, shrinking budget. We have worked hard to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars, balancing our budget while making sure funding is intact for instruction along with health and safety measures. 

Key to our achievements during these topsy-turvy times is good communications. I appreciate you taking the time to read messages like this one. I’m doing my best to keep you in the loop. You may also have seen me on TV, heard me on the radio, read my interviews in the paper. We must share with our neighbors a consistent, positive message of hope that centers on the success and well-being of our students.

See, we’ve accomplished quite a bit of late. But we have a whole lot of work ahead of us, so keep it up and thanks for being such a great partner in this important endeavor.