Phipps takes the reins of Artesia Public Schools

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Artesia Public Schools (APS) Board of Education Chairman Jeff Bowman welcomed James T. “Thad” Phipps to his first meeting as Superintendent of Schools Monday night.

“We welcome Mr. Phipps as this is his first board meeting,” Bowman said. “Welcome, we are very proud and happy to have you.”

“I’m very happy to be here and certainly it’s a privilege to be with everyone on the team here in this meeting tonight,” said Phipps. “I appreciate all the managers we have and the wonderful team of people.”

In the agenda area, Director of Health and Wellness Mitzi McCaleb received board approval of the Section 504 grievance procedure “which was generated by our lawyers and approved by the Office of Civil Rights”.

McCaleb said this procedure and proof of subsequent training should be the final compliance step the district must take to complete its OCR exam.

McCaleb also received board approval of a memorandum of understanding with West Texas Counseling & Guidance/Permian Basin Counseling and Guidance to use the “old” administration building on Quay Avenue, now called the Bulldog Wellness Center, for the sole purpose of providing outpatient mental health therapy services to APS students and staff.

Director of Special Education, Cari Jowers, received board approval of the annual Memorandum of Understanding with Artesia Head Start.

Deputy Superintendent of Elementary Education and Federal Programs Tammy Davis has received board approval to purchase IXL site licenses for 2,725 students for IXL Learning for a total of $441,381. This is an annual membership fee. The purchase will be made with district ESSER funds.

Deputy Superintendent of Transportation and Operations Cody Skinner received board approval to:

• Triwest Fence statewide pricing agreement for a new fence at Yeso Elementary School for a total cost of $29,793.95. “This fence is necessary to provide greater safety for students on the playground,” Skinner said.

• A quote from Visual Impressions Plus/InaBind of New Mexico to upgrade the die-cutting machines and poster makers that teachers use for their classrooms for a total cost of $38,408.78.

• A CES quote from AK Sales for outdoor tables and benches for the Artesia High School lawn at a cost of $31,700.91.

• an CES estimate from Security USA for the annual access control service agreement at a cost of $29,131.87. “This service is necessary to ensure the proper functioning of the key card system on our exterior doors,” Skinner said.

• a bid from Advanced Environmental for the air filters for the mechanical units in the district at a total cost of $21,060.56. The purchase will cover four filter changes for the school year.

• the rejection of offers received for a mobile home for the Penasco school. “We got two offers,” Skinner said, “and both were more than we’re willing to pay. “

• a CES proposal from Homespot de Portales for a prefabricated house with three bedrooms and two bathrooms to be placed at the Penasco school for the amount of $116,717.16.

In its staff and operations report to the board, Phipps noted the following:

• Retirement announcements for Shawna Baswell, Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant, and Judy Henderson, Special Educator at Grand Heights Early Childhood Center.

• resignation announcements for Krystal Cartwright, special education teacher at Yeso Elementary School; Savanna Curtman, first-grade Yeso teacher; Karla Escobedo, Spanish teacher at Artesia High School (AHS); Maribel Gabaldon, cook/helper at Zia Middle School; Maria Lucero, cook/assistant cook at Park Junior High School and Sabrina Sanchez, AHS caretaker.

• Job postings for Brenda Tovar, Park Secretary; Ginger Neilson, secretary of Hermosa Elementary School; Robin Volentine, third grade teacher at Yucca Elementary School; Jessica Morgan, Zia piano accompanist and choir assistant; Angelica Rodriguez, AHS Receptionist; Julieta Gomez, AHS goalkeeper; and Juliana Iboa, AHS keeper.

At the request of Phipps, the board approved a special meeting on Tuesday, July 26 at 6 p.m. to review and approve unscheduled change requests for the AHS auditorium renovation that could amount to more than $500,000. in approval of request for modification by the council.

The next regular meeting of the Board of Directors will be held at 6:00 p.m., Monday, August 8, in the Lowell M. Irby Board Room of the APS Administration Building.

The first day of the 2022-23 school year for the APS district is Thursday, August 11.

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