Albuquerque Business First

PUBLISHED: August 21, 2016

Representatives of Rio Rancho Public Schools, CNM and UNM West put the focus on local education issues during the quarterly luncheon of the Sandoval Economic Alliance on Tuesday.

RRPS Superintendent Sue Cleveland began her presentation by describing a reverse trend in the district’s demographics.

She explained the majority of today’s Rio Rancho students are Hispanic rather than Anglo, and stressed that despite this change, the schools’ grade-point averages have remained high.

“The trend nationally is, as you see these kinds of demographic changes, usually performance starts declining,” said Cleveland, crediting school employees with keeping scores high.

Asked later why she associated a drop in grades with demographic changes, Cleveland told the Observer there was no specific reason and said concerns are based on general national trends related to disabilities and child needs. She said demographics should not be used as an “excuse” for poor scores and that RRPS holds all students to a high curriculum standard.

Cleveland also discussed the $60 million school bond election and urged SEA members to support the measure. She said RRPS has never lost a bond issue in its 22-year existence.

In addition to technology funding, Cleveland emphasized the need for a new Shining Stars Preschool, since the current building is in a dire state.

“The building is literally falling apart,” Cleveland said. “There’s daylight you can see through the walls…It frankly is just not going to last much longer. It’s just literally falling apart.”

Cleveland said about 60 percent of RRPS students go to college, and that a large number of graduates join the military.

Following Cleveland’s presentation, Samantha Sengel, CNM chief community engagement officer, revealed that CNM is partnering with Sandoval County to reopen the New Mexico Innovation Laboratory at CNM’s Rio Rancho campus.

Sengel also said CNM is recruiting a regional training partner at its Rio Rancho campus that will bring “exciting” developments, although she could not disclose the identity of the partner.

“It’s kind of like economic development,” Sengel said. “I can’t tell you who the training partner is because we haven’t signed on the dotted line yet.”

She said the new partner will open up a labor market opportunity to recruit a specific type of work force from across the region to come to Rio Rancho for training. She added that the partnership will require “very unique” training technology to be constructed on campus.

“This will bring an entirely new area of training to CNM and we will only be providing it at the CNM Rio Rancho campus,” said Sengel, who hopes arrangements will be completed within the next two months.

Wynn Goering, CEO of UNM West, used a map to show how extending Broadmoor Boulevard between Paseo del Volcan and Northern Boulevard will solve transportation problems in the area. He also noted how the city’s gross receipts tax for higher education is helping fund the project.

The city tapped the higher education GRT on the basis that the project would benefit higher education, such as UNM West, in City Center.

Goering said the paved route will create a direct route from Rio Rancho to Sandoval Regional Medical Center and reduce commute times, and ultimately contribute to economic development in the area.


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