Attendees at Monday evening’s meeting of the Rio Rancho Public Schools Board of Education, almost 100 percent of them employed by or otherwise affiliated with the district, heard countless stories of the things going on at the 11 elementary schools, plus Shining Stars Preschool, like the new Joe Harris Elementary, getting brand-new digs in August.
Shining Stars Preschool Principal Kim Johns told board members she has enrollment of 660 on the dilapidated campus, and expects a similar enrollment at the new suite. Despite the excitement surrounding the new campus, Superintendent Sue Cleveland said, “We could use a second (preschool).”
As for Joe Harris Elementary, Principal Trent Heffner said he was awaiting final boundary changes before estimating his school’s first-day enrollment next school year, probably in the neighborhood of about 400 students, plus a few more with the reduction of enrollment at two boundary-affected elementary schools, Maggie Cordova and Martin Luther King Jr.
Also, Heffner joked, he’s been busy “making sure there are enough scissors and tape dispensers.”
“It’s a tremendous amount of work (to open two new schools), but the planning has been great,” Cleveland said.
Among the “interesting tidbits” coming out of Monday’s meeting, the bulk of time being spent on those reports:
• The “Girls Who Code” club is growing in popularity at many of the schools;
• Most schools have ways to honor students and make them feel special — “honor and value what each student brings to school,” was how one principal put it; another said they strive to serve “every student, every day”;
• Morning announcements at Puesta del Sol Elementary are high-tech YouTube videos;
• Some schools have diverse after-school clubs, such as archery club, drumming club and martial arts;
• Each seems to have a backpack program, where needy students take home food for the weekend, and one school even sends lunch leftovers home on a daily basis;
• The schools either have STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) labs active or expected to be operational in the coming months;
• Sandia Vista, focuses on charitable causes, like Ronald McDonald House, and helping out in the community.
The students aren’t the only ones benefiting from the attention: Staffers at Vista Grande Elementary also receive” self-care,” such as time to do yoga or other relaxing exercises to prepare for the day’s stress.
Still, the echoed concern, “Our counselors really are overwhelmed,” reminded board members of the need to meet the emotional and social needs of students.
“You have made a huge impact on our children,” lauded new board member Jeffery Morgan, “and that goes a long way.”
Cleveland termed the conglomeration of reports “an inspirational presentation.”
The next board meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 10.