Belen

The Belen School Board named the district’s new special education director at its April 16 meeting.

Mary Chavez will fill the vacancy created when Sharon Hurst retired in December. Chavez is currently a diagnostician for the district.

“Mary Chavez brings a wealth of experience and knowledge about special education,” Super-intendent Don Duran said. “She is an advocate for children and will be a tremendous asset to our school district’s administration.”

The school board also approved contracts for its administrative staff and certified employees, including teachers and nurses.

“I am very pleased with the educational leadership at our schools,” Duran said of his administrators. “To build on the success of our schools and to give continuity to the leadership, we are leaving all principals in their assignments.”

No administrator was given a contract longer than one year.

Among the certified employees, 310 teachers were rehired; 21 will not be rehired until they pass the New Mexico Test Assessment, formerly the National Teacher Exam.

In other action, the board learned that full-day kindergarten is paying off for the district

In the year-end budget adjustment from the state, Belen received $281,453 which included a unit value increase of $2.29 and adjustments for the kindergarten programs at Gil Sanchez, La Promesa and Rio Grande elementary schools, which have 117 students attending kindergarten for the entire day. A unit value is the per-pupil state funding given to districts.

Brad Phillips, executive director of operations, said the additional operational dollars would be used to offset the mid-year pay raises that were given to the employees as well as fund non-recurring costs which the district will identify later.

“This budget adjustment comes after the end of the calendar year, when the State Department of Education divides the remaining funds which the legislature appropriated,” Duran said of the year-end budget adjustments.

As Belen prepares its 2002-03 budget, Phillips is keeping tabs on what the state legislature and governor are doing with the state budget.

“Because of the stalemate over the budget, the State Department of Education has not established a unit value for next year. So we do not know how much money we will be getting,” Phillips said after the meeting.

“We are confident that we will get at least what we received last year, so we are using those figures to build our preliminary budget.”

Belen’s enrollment is fairly constant from year to year.

“We don’t have to worry about increases from year to year,” Phillips said. “We average 4,800 students. So we don’t have the stress of having more students than our budget planned for, like Los Lunas experiences.”

Belen’s operational budget is $25 million of its $40 million budget, which includes capital outlay and federal programs. The operational budget review by the state will be in June.

While Belen is not growing at this time, Phillips said, the district is addressing facility needs it will experience in the future, when the county’s growth affects the school district.

“The school board and administration are doing a good job prioritizing capital outlay projects so we can improve facilities when we have the money. We will be working on the master plan this summer, to determine which projects will be done next,” Phillips said.

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Jane Moorman