LL Board of Education: Archuletta, Otero-Kirkham elected


Two seats on the Los Lunas District Board of Education were filled, and voters approved the 2 mill levy during the election Tuesday.

There was 512 voters for continuing the tax, and 156 against.

“I want to thank the voters,” said Superintendent Bernard Saiz. “It was an overwhelming margin of those that came in and voted for the mill levy question.”

The 2 mill levy money is used for maintenance of the schools and cannot be used for anything other than capital asset upkeep and improvements of buildings, fields and playgrounds.

Some of the projects prioritized include purchasing a new PA system and fire alarm system to replace the aged systems at Valencia Elementary, an electronic marquee for Peralta Elementary and kitchen facility equipment upgrades or replacements for all the schools.

The superintendent said he welcomes the returning school board member, Robert Archuletta, and the new member, Georgia Otero-Kirkham.

“I think they both have some ambitious ideas and objectives they’d like to accomplish, and I’m looking forward to working with them to accomplish them,” Saiz said.

New school board member, Otero-Kirkham, District 3, is also the director of La Vida Felicidad’s board and the vice chairwoman of the University of New Mexico Development Board.

She also served two, four-year terms on the Valencia County Commission.

“In order for Valencia County to succeed on any level, we have to have a good work force,” Otero-Kirkham said. “In order to attract new businesses countywide or statewide, we have to have an eligible work force, and that means students have to have a good education.”

She believes vocational programs are important as well.

“We’re very lucky in the fact that we’ve got UNM-Valencia Campus,” she said. “If somebody came in and said, ‘We’re going to build cars.’ Well, UNM can tailor a program that will teach people how to work in the assembly lines, so we’re very lucky that we do have this two-year college.”

However, she said, people have to be able to read, write and do math before they can get in to the campus.

“The education of students needs more than just the schools,” she said. “They need parent involvement — the schools can’t do it all.”

She is interested in establishing pre-school literacy tutoring programs for English language learners and young readers to make sure all children read at grade level.

“We can get these kids prepared prior to entering kindergarten or first grade,” she said.

Children’s educational foundations are formed by the age of 5, and those early years are very critical in getting a child off to a good start, she said.

“It’s very important to me to be on the school board,” she said. “I’m looking forward to it, and I’m hoping to make a difference.”

Archuletta, District 5, is pleased to be re-elected for a full four-year term, he said, and plans to spend his term helping the district continue making academic gains.

“I want to keep the momentum going in the right direction, because these past two years, our math and reading scores have been going up,” Archuletta said.

Graduation rates have also increased in the district and across the state.

“As far as our kids graduating, we’re probably 10th in the state,” he said. “And that’s all three of our high schools. That has a lot to do with what we’re doing in our schools, and in our truancy program, getting the kids that had dropped out back in school to get them graduated.”

Archuletta has been serving on the finance committee this fiscal school year.

“Our finance team is probably one of the best in the state,” Archuletta said. “We’re always getting all these kudos about it. Our books are always balanced, so I want to keep that going.”

He believes the district’s budget is the most pressing issue, especially since it is likely there will be more budget cuts.

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