District to present parent, community meetings

Joshua Kellogg

FARMINGTON — Farmington Municipal School District officials are holding meetings Thursday and Friday to encourage parents, businesses and nonprofit organizations to work together to improve student academic achievement and the district’s graduation rate.

Teacher Rochelle Hastings, left, Lisa Madera, center, and her daughter, junior Claire Madera, visit during an open house on Tuesday at Farmington High School. The Farmington Municipal School District will be holding two events later this week to encourage community members to become involved in efforts to improve student academic achievement and the district’s graduation rate.

District Superintendent Gene Schmidt said a pillar of the district’s proposed strategic plan is to engage parents, businesses and the community in meaningful ways, and he hopes the meetings help pave the way for a conversation about the state of the district.

“We’re looking for, ‘How we can have a conversation with parents and the community as part of our strategic plan to change the way we do business,’” Schmidt said.

A “Family Leadership Night” meeting is set for Thursday at the Sycamore Park Community Center to discuss strategies for parents to engage in their child’s education and hear concerns from parents about the district’s operations.

Friday’s “Community Partners Task Force Meeting” in the board room at the district’s central administrative building is designed to bring together the school district and community stakeholders to “Raise the Bar on Excellence,” the name of the district’s proposed strategic plan.

Schmidt and Assistant Superintendent Phil Valdez cited the district’s reading and math proficiency levels, and high school graduation rate as areas they hope to improve.

The graduation rate for Farmington, Rocinante and Piedra Vista high schools for the 2015-2016 school year was about 72 percent, according to Schmidt.

About 36 percent of students met or exceeded proficiency in English, and about 24 percent of students met or exceeded proficiency in math, according to the New Mexico Public Education Department. The proficiency rates are from the results of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, exam for students in third through 11th grades for the 2015-2016 school year.

Duane Toledo talks to a parent in his tutorial class during an open house on Tuesday at Farmington High School.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to (get) the community involved (in) the school district,” Valdez said.

During Thursday’s meeting, guest speaker Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch, a motivational speaker from Las Vegas, Nev., who runs a number of educational support programs, will present ideas for parents to help their children succeed in school, and facilitate a discussion between parents and district administrators.

Schmidt believes a conversation with parents can help the district create new opportunities to partner and engage in a student’s education.

“We need to understand how parents view the school (district) and the community,” Schmidt said.

For Friday’s meeting, Schmidt hopes to talk with business owners and members of the community to learn about the needs of San Juan County, and discuss ideas for grant proposals to improve the area. As an example, Schmidt cited a possible grant idea to improve access to mental health services.

Teacher Stephanie Jaquez, third from left,, gets a hug from former student and current junior Yulissa Reyes in her English language arts class during an open house on Tuesday at Farmington High School. At left is Reyes' mother, Vanessa Reyes, and at right is her brother, freshman Ryan Reyes.

District officials also hope to discuss developing job internships and job shadow opportunities for students with local businesses to help prepare students for life after high school.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.

If you go

What: Farmington Municipal School District Family Leadership Night

When: 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday

Where: Sycamore Park Community Center, 1051 Sycamore St. in Farmington

What: Farmington Municipal School District Community Partners Task Force Meeting

When: 11 a.m. to noon Friday

Where: Farmington schools board room in the central administrative office, 2001 N. Dustin Ave. in Farmington