Top state officials have heard Rio Rancho Public Schools’ needs, the district’s board of education members learned at their meeting Monday.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham spent about 45 minutes with Superintendent Sue Cleveland earlier that day, listening to the district’s plans to offer a vast curriculum of career-technical education (CTE) classes and hearing about the building the district bought to retrofit for teaching such classes. Accompanying Lujan Grisham was the New Mexico Public Education Department Secretary Kurt Steinhaus

Sue Cleveland

Cleveland gave the board an update on the time spent with the governor, which included making sure Lujan Grisham knew about the current “shortage in the skilled trades area.” She told the governor about partnerships the district has established in getting more attention to CTE, that the district has heard “no dissenters, no opposition” from parents and others, and knows students “need opportunities to see trades in action and what opportunities are in those careers.”

Cleveland also assured the board members, meeting virtually from their homes, that Lujan Grisham was apprised of the district’s need for financial aid in its quest through what Cleveland called “a very detailed budget.” She said the governor was “very positive, very responsive” and had informed Cleveland that CTE was a priority for her administration.

In agenda business, the board:

  • Got an update on the need for redistricting, necessary after the 2020 U.S. Census, and heard there are six options, or maps designed by Research & Polling. The board will have a workshop session to reduce that number before receiving public input; a final redistricting map needs to be in place by the end of the year, and it will remain in effect for 10 years.
  • OK’d contracts for security services on demand from two metro-area firms, AJF Enterprises of Rio Rancho and Connor Security of America from Albuquerque.
  • Approved a waiver to the so-called “nepotism rule” in Policy 736 to allow Cleveland’s youngest son, Royce, to apply for a job with the district. Sue Cleveland told the board the district is more than desperate to find employees, with “140-plus vacancies.”
  • Thanked Intel for its recent donation of 90 STEM kits, a five-foot programmable robot, a 3-D imaging computer, chairs and a desk.
  • Commended Jocelyn Salaz, art teacher at Puesta del Sol Elementary — also the district elementary art content leader — for being one of two winners of the United States Society for Education through Art National Edwin Ziegfeld Award. She “won this award in spite of the fact that I wrote in a letter of recommendation,” Fine Arts Executive Director Kurt Schmidt quipped, “one of the easiest letters to write and to limit it to only a page was hard with all of her accomplishments.”
  • Commended myriad students who received “All State” honors from the New Mexico American Choral Directors Association and New Mexico Educators band awards. For the full list, see the Feb. 20 edition of the Observer.