Students and staff get half day for big playoff game

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With a high number of Belen Schools employees attending Class 4A semifinals football game in Roswell on Friday, school administrators decided to make the big game day a half a day's worth of instruction.

Parents and students throughout Belen Schools were notified Wednesday, in English and Spanish, through phone calls, emails, text messages and letters that students would need to be picked up early on Friday.

Elementary school students were released at 1:15 p.m., while secondary school students were released at 12:15 p.m.

The Eagles were scheduled to travel to Roswell Friday to face top-seeded Goddard in a Class 4A semifinal at the Wool Bowl.

After polling Belen School's principals at a site administrator's meeting, Superintendent Ron Marquez learned that on top of coaches, band director and cheerleader sponsors, an additional 51 school employees throughout the district would be attending the game.

Having substitutes fill in for the high number of employees missing or leaving work early made Marquez question "the quality of instruction that we will be putting out," he said at the Nov. 27 Belen Board of Education meeting.

At the beginning of the school year, board members approved a school calendar that built in a few snow days if needed.

"I think it makes sense. We have the instructional time," Marquez said of the decision to have an abbreviated day. "We have the instructional minutes to go ahead and knowingly announce in advance that we plan on an early release and there's no consequences to instructional minutes."

Marquez received both positive and negative feedback on the administration's call to have a half day, but complaints circled around parents who received all four notifications of the half day and others who wanted to be given more advanced notice about the half day.

Employees leaving work early would need a personal day to do so, but those staying the entire school day would count the remainder of the day as a professional day.

Teachers will be learning about the educational state standards, The Common Core State Standards and a Teaching Made Easier Program, which aids teachers in creating interactive learning activities in various subjects.

Board President Sam Chavez said he hoped employees supporting the Eagles would wait until the end of the instructional day to make the trek to Roswell.

"I just want to make sure we don't have to call in extra substitutes to stand in," Chavez said.

School employees were available to supervise children, whose parents were not able to pick up their children early, Marquez said.

In other business, the board:

•Approved to amend the election resolution proclamation for the regular school district election scheduled for Feb. 3.

Residents will no longer be casting ballots at the Belen Consolidated Schools administration office.

Voters will be electing board members for two four-year terms representing District 4 and District 5.

Candidates must submit their declaration of candidacy to the Valencia County Clerk of Valencia County by 5 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 18.

Residents in precincts 23 and 27 vote for District 4 and District 5 at Henry T. Jaramillo Community School. Residents in precinct 25 and 31 vote for District 4 at First Baptist Church.

Residents in precincts 7, 17, 19, 37 and 39 vote for District 4 and District 5 at Dennis Chavez Elementary School.


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