Wisneski appointed to Belen Board of Ed


In the matter of a few minutes, Tommy Wisneski went from baseball to board room Tuesday night.

One of four candidates who applied for the vacant District 2 seat on the Belen Board of Education, Wisneski’s nomination was affirmed by a unanimous vote.

Julia M. Dendinger-News-Bulletin photo: Veguita resident Tommy Wisneski, center, is sworn in as the newest member of the Belen Board of Education Tuesday night by Belen Magistrate John Chavez, far right. Wisneski was joined by his sons, Thomas, 14, Charlie 10, and wife, Rosalyn. He will represent District 2, which covers southern Valencia County and northern Socorro County.

“The vote, I took as a sign that this group is dedicated to working as a team,” Wisneski said after the meeting adjourned. “I want to work really hard for District 2. I want to help parents with their concerns about their children’s education.”

The District 2 seat became vacant after former board president Sam Chavez abruptly resigned in January.

With his appointment to the board, Wisneski will be leaving his position as the Belen High School assistant baseball coach.

“It was a hard decision, but I left the guys in good hands with Coach (Steve) Contreras,” the Veguita resident said. “They are a great team so I expect them to be competing for a district championship.”

During his interview Monday night, Wisneski highlighted his coaching experience which dates back to 1992 as the assistant baseball coach at New Mexico Highlands University.

When asked what positive things he would bring to the board and the district, Wisneski said his background in coaching, business and construction industries taught him the importance of teamwork.

“I believe with my extensive knowledge of young people over the last 20-plus years, I think I look at things with a different perspective, as well as my business and construction experience,” he told the board. “We are a very strong district and … I look forward being part of that team.”

Two of the hot topics Wisneski identified during his interview were absenteeism the amount of testing imposed on the district as a whole was also a controversial issue.

“Our graduation rate, the way they measure, puts us down. But the flat formula doesn’t strictly gauge our success,” he said. “As a district, we look at things individually and know we are being successful.”

Wisneski added that Common Core, what he knew about it, was a “strong direction for our academic future.”

On the subject of teacher evaluations, Wisneski said he had a good understanding of them from a teacher’s perspective. His wife, Rosalyn, is a teacher.

“They are holding teachers accountable for something they might not control,” he said. “You take a good teacher and look at them differently just because a student didn’t pass a test. I’m not sure that’s fair.”

During the interview, the board pointed out that as a board member, Wisneski would receive complaints from concerned citizens and parents, and wanted to know how he would address those concerns.

“First, I would ask a lot of questions. One of the first I would ask is what they had done prior to calling me,” he said. “Have they spoken with the teacher, the principal? Have they followed the process and received no results?

“If they have I would address it with whoever I needed to in my chain of command — the superintendent, the board. We’re not here to solve everyone’s problems but we are here to listen to them.”

As the interview wrapped up, the board asked why he was the best candidate for the position.

Wisneski said he had “no political agenda what-so-ever. My intentions are to serve the academic community to the best of my ability. I have a vested interest — my son attends Belen Middle School, my wife is a teacher at Belen High School.

“Belen Schools is a great place to come and learn, and I think I can help that along with some of my experiences. I want to make sure kids have a very safe and enduring educational experience here.”

After Wisneski was sworn in by Belen Magistrate John Chavez, the board handled its annual reorganization. Larry Lindberg was chosen as board president, Lorraine Espinosa as vice president and Lola Quintana as secretary.

The board thanked all of the applicants for showing interest in the position, thanking them for their service to country and community.

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