Los Lunas school board gives super 'one big goal' — raise scores in every school

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Los Lunas Schools Superintendent Bernard Saiz was given one big goal for the new school year at the meeting Tuesday. He must raise math and reading proficiency levels at every school in the district.

"That's a bit daunting, and it's a lofty goal," the superintendent said.

Traditionally, four goals are assigned to the district's superintendent by the Board of Education each year.

But in an executive session last week, when the board discussed and decided the superintendent's goals, they changed the approach.

"We kind of looked at it a little different this year," said Charles Tabet, the board president. "We looked at our goals last year, and the stuff that we've been picking is stuff that he should be doing. We wanted to look at something a little bit farther out there, and a little bit harder, that he's going to have to work at."

When the board invited the superintendent into the meeting and presented him with the goal, he was concerned it might not be achievable.

"But I feel right now, we're at a time and a place in this school district that it is actually an achievable goal," said Saiz. "It's easier to turn a small boat around in the ocean than it is a large ship, and Los Lunas Schools, being the eighth largest school district in the state, is a large ship, but we've spent the last several years turning that ship around, and all of the trainings for our teachers and staff, the consultants we've brought in, the new models in curriculum we've brought in, has brought us to a place now, that I believe it's achievable."

The board originally thought to measure the superintendent's attainment of the goal by using the state grading system, and the rise in each school's grade, but the ambiguity of the new system discouraged them from that idea, said Board Secretary Robert Archuletta.

Instead, they decided to use MAPS, the Measure of Academic Progress, test scores as their measuring stick.

"It's a better gauge," Archuletta said.

The board also debated using all the schools or only schools with the lowest grades, and decided to include the schools that are doing well, said Tabet.

MAPS tests are given to students three times during the course of the school year, fall, winter and spring.

"We're going to look at it after every testing period to evaluate where the school is," Tabet said.

A certain amount of leeway might be considered if a school faces unforeseen circumstances that could negatively impact a school's performance, he said.

The $20,000 incentive salary that had been divided by four goals at $5,000 per goal, will now be divided by 16 schools, about $1,250 per school. That figure is further broken down to $625 for improved reading proficiency, and $625 for math improvement.

If a school's math scores improve, but not the reading scores, the superintendent will receive half of the money for that school.

The measure of improvement will be based on the difference between the fall and spring MAP scores of each of the schools.

The first MAP testing took place Monday, Aug. 27, and the last test is given in May.

"If ever we were ready to meet that goal, this is the school year we can do it," Saiz said.

"I think we're going to see some huge gains in this district this year."


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.