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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, December 12, 2003

Board told teachers taxed by TAKS paperwork

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri., Dec. 12, 2003 -- The Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD board members heard concerns voiced by district teachers over issues surrounding paperwork requirements for the Texas Assessment of Knowledge Skills (TAKS) test and the allocation of funds to areas other than academic education during their regular monthly meeting on Thursday night.

Board members also discussed issues surrounding the state-issued 'report card' for the school, and congratulated the state championship FFA dairy cattle judging team during their final regular meeting for 2003.

Jamie Crisp, president of the local chapter of the Texas State Teachers Association, spoke to the board over her concerns that the district was cutting too far into educational funding, and spending too much on sport programs.

"With the most recent financial cuts and staff reductions the state, local and national economies have caused, teachers and support staff have taken the brunt of the blows to our school district," Crisp stated in a letter she read to the board last night.

Crisp pointed out areas of the district's policy that are detrimental to the quality of education in the district. The reduction of the number of teacher coupled with the administration's lack of attention to teacher input and the absence of cost of living increases have led to lower teacher moral.

She went on to point out that extra time the teaching staff has recently been required to spend on administration assigned paperwork analyzing the new testing requirements has detracted from the preparation time the staff has for their classes.

The more demanding state testing in the absence of funding for the implementation of the mandates might lead to a lower campus rating for the district, she said.

Crisp also said that the district's spending on nonessential items, such as new sport field facilities and coverings without first taking care of the academic facilities.

"I hereby offer my objection to any action by this board that means spending more on sports than academics. The board is constantly telling teachers that 'the student comes first.' If, indeed, that is P-B-T ISD's first priority, lets put our money...on the academic student, then the rest of the programs will fall into place.

Pecos High teacher Jolene Davis elaborated on the unfairness and illegality of the district's mandates that require instructors to analyze and report the results of the standardized testing without compensation.

In a letter she read to the board, Davis said, "our main problem is unnecessary paperwork requirements."

Davis said that in the past year, the teachers have been asked repeatedly to complete various reports and attend workshops regarding TAKS breakdowns, without any considerations for the extra time asked of them and without compensation.

Davis said though the administration had backed off of the some of the latest assignments, "it does not excuse the previously required documents, which by law, [teachers] are required to receive compensation for under law 11.164. It doesn't excuse all the extra hours, over the 8-4 workday. It doesn't replace lost family time or relieve stress."

"We did not wish to fight. We wanted to settle peacefully, and we are asking for warnings, reprimands, whatever needs to be done to stop the unnecessary paperwork violations form taking place," Davis said.

The board also heard from PHS teacher Robin Manning, who said that the paperwork that is being required by the teachers, could be accomplished with the use of a program that the administration has access to, but is not accessible by the teaching staff. She added that the teachers are being asked to do these analyses by hand, when the administration has the software that will accomplish the same result.

The school board also looked at the changes in this year's Texas Association of School Board policy changes. Among the items were the revision of policies concerning the school board elections, the limitation on the amount and kinds of paperwork that may be assigned to teachers and instructs the district to transfer any responsibilities that can reasonably be performed by that staff, according to the report.

The report also makes mandatory the moment of silence that was discretionary. Also the report adds that the finality of grades given by teachers can be changed if the board "determines the grade to be arbitrary, erroneous, or inconsistent with the district's grading policy. The Board's determination cannot be appealed."

In other business, the board reviewed the campus report card that will be sent home to parents, regarding the district's performance in the TAKS standardized test as well as the students' performance on college entrance exams and other statistics relating to the quality of education in the district.

The report shows that graduation rate for the high school had risen from the past year, from 80 percent to almost 90 percent, which is 10 percentage points above the state average. However, the report also shows that the average SAT score for the district had fallen 20 points from the previous year to 813, and that score is 170 points below the state average.

The high school students that met the passing requirements for all of this year's TAKS test areas was 34 percent, as compared to a 67 percent average for the state. The high school's attendance rate was just under the state average, with 94 percent attendance. The dropout rate for the 2002 school year was one percentage point less than the state's average, and half as much as the dropout rate from the previous year.

The district budgeted an average of $6,644 per student this year, which is $1,500 more than the state average. The district received a rating of acceptable for its performance on the standardized testing for the 2002 reporting year.

Board members also congratulated the state championship dairy cattle judging team from the local FFA chapter, which won the title during competition last May. Three of the girls representing the winning team spoke to the board about their experience at the national competition this fall in Louisville, Ky.

Team members included: Sarah McKinney, Kaci Harrison, Shelly Martinez, and Lauren Martinez, who couldn't attend the meeting because she is in college at Tarletan State University.

The board also approved the sale of multiple foreclosed properties that will now be sent on to other various local taxing entities for their approval.

PHA board OKs audit bid, salary hikes for employees

Staff Writer

PECOS, Fri., Dec. 12, 2003 -- Pecos Housing Authority board membersapproved raises for PHA workers after a 75-minute executive session Thursday evening, and then after a one-hour break for Christmas dinner with the PHA staff and their families, approved a raise of just under 50 percent to PHA Executive Director Nellie Gomez.

The salary increase, from $31,200 annually to $46,197, came after her evaluation by the board during the executive session portion of the three-hour meeting.

"For many years we've been very, very conservative when it came to salary increases. We had to be because we're not as well off as we are now," said PHA board chairman Frank Perea. "But as far as I'm concerned it's time to pay the executive director what the executive director deserves."

"If we had increased the executive director's salary like we were supposed to do since eight years ago, Nellie would be at that right now," Perea added.

Board members said they were reluctant to give such a large pay increase all at one time, but approved the decision unanimously, on a motion by Jim Workman that was seconded by Irene Dominguez.

The board earlier had scored Gomez 49 points out of a possible 50 in their evaluation, and Gomez said that the overall pool of money to pay the salary increases for her and the other PHA workers was available.

"We're $25,000 under budget," said Workman, while Gomez said, "The (overall) reserves are real good. We're carrying over $100,000 each year, and that reflects how low the salaries have been."

The other increases approved were an increase from $17,680 to $23,150 for office manager Irma Harris; an increase from $14,560 to $17,800 for occupancy specialist Michelle Acosta; and an increase from $21,840 to $22,815 for administrative assistant Jo Ann Cranfill. Of that salary, $20,000 comes out of the PHA's Capital Funds.

In the maintenance department, supervisor Rigo Rubio's salary was increased from $24,960 to $26,020; maintenance 'B' worker Tony Palencia was increased from $21,840 to $22,339; maintenance 'A' aide Roberto Lujan was increased from $17,680 to $18,720 and utility labor worker Alfredo Mendez was increased from $16,764 to $17,305. Capital funds are used for half of the salaries for Palencia, Lujan and Mendez.

The salary increases were among the last items dealt with by the PHA board during the meeting. They also approved hiring Mike Estes to handle the audits for both the Housing Authority and for Farm Labor Housing, were updated on improvements to the PHA apartment sites and were briefed by Gomez on the occupancy rates for the both the PHA apartments around Pecos and the FLH apartments on West County Road.

Gomez said Estes was the lone auditor to bid on the PHA work out of 23 letters sent out, and his $6,000 bid was $2,500 above the price he charged the Housing Authority last year. Estes also bid $2,200 to handle the FLH audit.

"He's done a good job for us the past three years. He's been accurate and hasn't put us in jeopardy," said Workman. But he later added, "I'd like to see you make phone calls to these people (other auditors) and ask 'Have you gotten the letter from us'" on the audit contract bid.

Gomez said Estes formerly had agreed to three-year contracts to do the PHA audit, but would only agree to a one-year deal this time, "if the price was right." She also said the U.S. Department of Housing ad Urban Development (HUD) would reimburse the PHA the cost of the audit, and eventually the board voted to approved hiring Estes at the $8,200 price tag for the PHA and FLH audits.

Gomez said the Farm Labor Housing audit needed to be done by April 1, while the PHA audit doesn't need to be completed until September 2004.

On the improvements to the PHA facilities, Gomez said fencing and footing at the East Side Apartments have been finished. "Hopefully by the end of the (fiscal) year we'll get all this done before we get the next grant," she said. "The landscaping we haven't done very much of. We're still waiting on paving of the alleys."

Gomez said she was told that Reeves County Road and Bridge workers were too busy right now to handle the work, while the Town of Pecos City wanted too much money to handle the paving of the alleys. The county is planning to donate recycled asphalt to the project, and Workman said the alley work was part of the PHA's agreement with the county, in which land owned by the authority was given to the county to build two new holes at the Reeves County Golf Course.

Gomez said she had not pressed the county on the work because county crews had done trench work for the PHA as part of the fencing project.

"What you need to do is get out a letter (to county judge Jimmy Galindo) and with copies to the commissioners and remind them we have an agreement," Perea said.

Earlier, Gomez said she had received a letter from HUD official Judy Wojciechoswski notifying PHA that it would be considered as a small housing authority, which would mean federal scoring of the agency would be on a two-year time frame instead of annually.

"Every year we spend a lot of time getting ready for physical inspections," she said. "With this decision we'll still have to do it, but we'll be scored for two years instead of one.

Gomez said the waiting list for PHA apartments is down from past months. "The waiting list is down to 40 or 50 on the list, and we used to have 60 or 80," she said. "For a one bedroom (apartment) I don't have hardly any waiting list. I had one man come Monday and he had an apartment by Friday."

She said waits for two bedroom PHA apartments are about six months, while the wait for the three-bedroom apartments is between three and six months.

In the FLH portion of the meeting, Gomez said that three non-migrant renters are now in the West County Road housing, and 1-2 more were soon expected in. She said that PHA tenant Benny Mora had been doing work in the apartments in exchange for rental fees.

"We're looking to keep at least two ahead of everybody to show," Gomez said. "I really think it will be worth it after we get them rented."

She said she has Mora trying to replace some doors, while cabinets are just being repainted.

Board members closed out the meeting by setting Feb. 6 as the date for the PHA's annual meeting, which includes officials from other government agencies. The meeting will serve as the board's January meeting. Gomez asked for a meeting in late January so that annual reports would be ready for presentation, but the meeting was moved back to the first Friday in February due to conflicts for board members at the end of January.

Judging tonight for Christmas lighting contest

PECOS, Fri., Dec. 12, 2003 -- Local residents and businesses are reminded to have their Christmas lighting decorations turned on tonight, for the Annual Christmas Lighting Contest sponsored by the Women's Division of the Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce.

According to Women's Division President Michelle Workman, the contest will be similar to the revised contest held by the Chamber last year.

"We'll have about 18-21 judges organized and using the city map we will be going through all the community," Workman told Chamber members on Tuesday. The judging will be done by sections of the community, with seven winners to be announced.

"They don't have to call in to have their home or block judged, because we will go by there," Workman said. She added that a block that was decorated the best will also win an award.

"Last year, we also picked out a business, so we'll be doing that too, this year," she said. "We want to make sure that everybody turns on their lights Friday evening, because that's when we will be judging," said Workman.

Judging is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., and the winners would be announced next week in the Pecos Enterprise and on KIUN radio.

Bessie Haynes kids to perform in choir at PHS

PECOS, Fri., Dec. 12, 2003 -- The Bessie Haynes Elementary Choir will present their Christmas program "Christmas at the O.K. Corral" in the Pecos High School Auditorium on Monday at 7 p.m. Parents and the community are invited to the performance.

The choir is under the direction of Debra Lenfest, meets on Wednesdays from 3:15 to 4 p.m. The choir is made up of 55 students, from the 4th, 5th, and 6th grades.


PECOS, Fri., Dec. 12, 2003 -- High Thursday 72. Low this morning 30. Forecast for tonight: Mostly clear. Lows near 25. Northwest winds 10 to 15 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy. Highs 50 to 55. West winds 10 to 15 mph. Saturday night: Mostly clear. Lows in the mid 20s. West winds near 10 mph. Sunday: Mostly sunny. Highs in the mid 60s. West winds 10 to 15 mph. Sunday night: Partly cloudy. Lows in the mid 30s. Monday: Partly cloudy. Highs in the lower to mid 60s. Monday night: Partly cloudy. Lows near 30.

Police Report

EDITOR'S NOTE: Information contained in the Police Report is obtained from reports filed by the Pecos Police Department, Reeves County Sheriff's Office, or other officers of those agencies. The serving of warrants by an officer for outstanding fines of either traffic citations, animal control violations or other court costs are considered arrests and will be printed as such unless indicated that the fines were paid. In such instances we will indicate payment and release.


Vivian Franco Jr., 49, was served a warrant for theft under $50 on Dec. 10, at 11:43 p.m., while in detention at the Reeves County Jail.


Margarito Eliseo Vargas, 18, and Jesus Rodriguez, 19, were both arrested for evading arrest, criminal trespass, and burglary of a habitation on Dec. 10, at 1:15 p.m., at Pecos High School.


Alvaro Adame, 24, was arrested on a warrant for possession of a controlled substance, cocaine, within a 1000 feet of a school on Dec. 9, at 6:40 p.m., in the 1300 block of Cypress Street.


Jose Bravo, 74, was arrested on a warrant for theft by appropriation on Dec. 9, at 7:19 p.m., in the 1300 block of Cypress Street.


Cassandra Fobbs, 19, was arrested on two warrants, both for failure to attend school, on Dec. 9, at 3:12 p.m., when she turned herself in at the Criminal Justice Center.


Mary Lou Alvarez, 46, was arrested on an Ector County warrant for theft by check, a class B misdemeanor, on Dec. 8, at 7:11 p.m., on Interstate 20 at mile marker 42.


Jae Michael Ewing, 20, was arrested on a Ward County warrant for a motion to adjudicate guilt on Dec. 8, at 3:38 p.m., in the 800 block of West Daggett Street


Jesse John Maguna, 19, was arrested on a probation violation at the Flying J truck stop on Dec. 7, at 10:04 a.m.


Michelle Carrera, 17, was arrested on a warrant for contempt of court on Dec. 5, at 4:42 p.m., at Lamar AEP building in the 100 block of West 'F' Street.


Martiniano Aguirre, 33, was arrested for public intoxication and evading arrest on Dec. 4, at 9:40 p.m. at the intersection of Seventh and Maple streets.


Jacob Corralez, 17, was arrested on a warrant for contempt of court on Dec. 4, at 10:08 p.m., in the 1500 block of South Cedar Street.


Laura Leggarreta, 20, was arrested on two warrants for no liability insurance and a violation of a promise to appear on Dec. 4, at 10:15 p.m., in the 1500 block of South. Cedar Street


Raymond Avila, 26, was arrested on a warrant for failure to control speed on Dec. 4, at 10:50 a.m., while in custody at the Reeves County Jail.


Mary Bell Hernandez, 24, was arrested on two warrants for harboring a runaway child and enticing a child, class B misdemeanor, on Dec. 4, at 10:05, while in custody at the Reeves County Jail.


Rueben Contreras, 46, was arrested on a warrant for theft of service on Dec. 3, at 7:08 p.m., in the 1300 block of Johnson Street.


Jack Fuentes, 23, was arrested for theft under $50, no driver's license, and no valid liability insurance on Dec. 4, at 2:11 a.m., at the Allsup's, 708 S. Cedar St.


Willie Ephraim, 36, was arrested on a warrant for possession of a controlled substance, cocaine, on Dec. 12, at 4:41 p.m., in the 700 block of 12th Street.


Raymond Rivera Avila Jr., 26, was arrested on a warrant to revoke probation, on an original charge of unlawfully carrying a weapon in a prohibited place on Dec. 2, at 3:24 p.m., in the 2100 block of Plum Street.


Felix Hernandez, 45, was arrested on a warrant for a parole violation on Dec. 1, at 7:34 p.m., in the 600 block of Mesquite Street.


Robert Caroline and Larry Claverie

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
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