RIO RANCHO — With the school year underway, Rio Rancho Public Schools Board of Education meetings were back to normal — more than an hour in length, with the Aug. 14 session lasting 1:42.

“We had a really good start to the school year,” RRPS Superintendent Sue Cleveland told the board. “It was a very successful week, particularly for transportation,” although some adjustments were made or will need to be made.

“We have a few teacher and education assistant vacancies,” she added, “but the district is better-staffed than in the past. We have strong returning talent and some wonderful new hires.”

The district’s student enrollment was less than projected, Cleveland said, with “wonderful cooperation” after a week-plus from parents in the areas of behavior and attendance, two areas of concern this school year.

Among the business on the agenda was a report on the district’s facilities and the need to increase the fee assessed to use them.

The new facility use agreement and 10% increase helps the district recover the direct cost, “and our facilities are used all of the time,” Cleveland said.

The drawback with having great facilities and community need — secondary to schools’ usage — “is just continued wear and tear on our facilities, and it is significant,” Cleveland said, especially with sports now played year-round.

Chief Operations Officer Mike Baker went over the 10% increase in fees, noting, “(We) certainly don’t want to overcharge community members for the use of the facilities … owned by RRPS.

“It’s very important that we capture our costs for this program … We use this money to go back into the facilities and keep those facilities in good working order,” Baker said.

After the board’s unanimous approval, with board member Jeffery Morgan attending virtually, Cleveland said, “We need to be able to maintain what we have” and noted the increase isn’t a “money-making operation for the district.”

Facility use agreements are now under the auspices of the Safety & Security Department after previous oversight by the Athletics Department.

In other matters, the board:

  • Approved the bond resolution for the $80 million bond question appearing on the Nov. 7 Election Day, when the seats of board members Amanda Galbraith and Noreen Scott are also to be decided; neither has confirmed to the Observer if she intends to run for re-election. (Cleveland said $32 million in matching funds are anticipated if voters approve the bond issue.)
  • Began a discussion of what will be the formal list of resolutions, and its order of importance, for the New Mexico School Board Association, and probably retained for the 2024 legislative session: support for CTE, benefits structure, transportation, school safety, school behavioral health services, teacher licensure advancement and additional funding to add special education positions are on the outline. Some “tweaking” and changes in wording were made and approved. Board member Gary Tripp said he’d prefer just resolutions on safety and transportation.
  • Heard a report from Terri Meier, the director of education technology, on the July 20-21 “tech time” presentation, which attracted 264 ed-tech teachers to hear more about using technology, including artificial intelligence, in the classroom.

The board’s next meeting is set for 6 p.m. Aug. 28, following an executive session that begins at 5:30 p.m.