RIO RANCHO — Those days of fighting battles over contracts between the district and its employees are long over, not even in the rearview mirror anymore.

The new negotiated agreement for the 2023-24 school year between Rio Rancho Public Schools and the Rio Rancho School Employees Union, approved by 98.8% of the RRSEU membership, calls for substantial raises for everyone in the district.

And it received a hearty 4-0 vote — Jessica Tyler was absent — from the RRPS Board of Education at its June 5 meeting.

Licensed instructional and professional staff on levels 1, 2 and 3 will receive a 6% raise above their current annual base salary,

Education assistants (EAs), depending on their tier designation, will receive salaries of $25,000, $27,500 and $30,000.

Secretarial and clerical staffers received a 25% raise, with salaries ranging from $29,328 to $33,539, depending on their days worked; bus drivers and custodial staff got a 10% raise; nurses, security staff and others, get a 6% raise.

Preparation time and planning time were also addressed, as was the availability of employees not using some sick/personal time to “sell back” those days at $300 per day.

The school board, after hearing Superintendent Sue Cleveland’s endorsement of the agreement, voted 4-0 to OK it.

“When we collaborate, we can do so much more for our kids and our staff than if we try to do things when it’s with contention behind it,” said Billie Helean, RRSEU president.

That was the main item for board consideration, which also included:

• New Mexico School Board Association achievement awards for Richard Draper, Jeannie Springer-Knight and Suzanne Nguyen-Wisneski, “folks who have really gone beyond over many years to help support our district and our students,” Cleveland said;

• Applauding the achievements of just-graduated Cleveland High student Eliana Juarez for her third-place finish at the recent Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair in Virginia Beach, Virginia;
• The first reading of planned changes in Policy 1003, approving open enrollment of children of military members, before official residency;

• The appointment of board members Noreen Scott and Jeffery Morgan to facility committees for Independence High School and Rio Rancho Cyber Academy, with Gary Tripp, a former Rio Rancho High School principale, named to the RRHS safety and security upgrades committee;

• Approval of a contract for another year for lobbyist Cris Balzano, of Balzano Government Relations; and

• Hearing the need for a scientific poll, to be conducted by Research & Polling, anticipated to help the district prioritize its list of 13 priority projects to be funded by the $80 million bond voters will be asked to approve in November.

The board meeting also had a request for metal detectors at the schools from Greg Anderson, the grandfather of a student at Stapleton Elementary, who said installing metal detectors on school campuses would provide a “measure of assurance that the school is safe … a small price to pay.”

The next regular board meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. June 26. There’s one meeting slated for July at 5:30 p.m. July 10.