Española School Board Begins Review of All Contracts

Espanola Public School Board President Ruben Archuleta took up a review of all contracts Wed. night. Photo at earlier board meeting by Valley Daily Post

Española School Board Begins Review of All Contracts

Staff Report

The Española Valley Public School Board met Wednesday, April 5 and took up the goal of reviewing every single contract the district currently holds and determining whether they should be continued or canceled. The review process is anticipated to take months, but on Wednesday the first contract to be reviewed was the media consultant contract with Trujillo Media, owned by Barney Trujillo. Trujillo who also serves as a Rio Arriba County Commissioner has held a contract with the school district for the past four years to conduct community and media relations, as well as other tasks as assigned.

Acting Superintendent Denise Lalancette Johnston recommended the contract with Trujillo Media be discontinued and funds be “rechanneled to the classroom.” The majority of the board with little discussion decided they did not believe it was necessary to continue the contract and motioned to end it. Board member Pablo Lujan asked Acting Superintendent Johnston if the contractor had been contacted regarding the review of this contract. She replied no and the board voted 4-1 for early termination of the contract with Lujan being the only dissenting vote.

The board then took up transportation issues and reviewed the school board’s transportation contracts for daily school bus routes. Currently, Española public school directly owns 20 “to-and-from”

buses that are used for transporting students to and from school, and contracts with seven contractors who run 17 buses that run to-and-from contract routes.

Patrick HerreraWhen School Board member Patrick Herrera asked Transportation Director Sennie Quintana why the district had some buses that they own and other buses under contract it was explained that under state law school districts do not need to go out for RFP to renew school transportation contracts. Gino Zamora, attorney for Española Public Schools offered the additional explanation that under state law contractors are protected from losing their contract unless they fail to meet the service requirements of the contract. The only way a school district can pull back from a contract is if the contractor decides they no longer want to run that route or the individual proprietor retires or goes out of business. The district will continue to split its transportation between school owned buses and contractors so long as the contractors choose to remain in business.

School Board president Ruben Archuleta and member Gilbert Serrano asked about activity buses and specifically why the school’s marquee sports tend to have access to the nicest and newest buses over other sports. They gave the example of the basketball team always using the newest activity bus but when the EVHS tennis team recently traveled to Farmington they had to use an older bus which broke down in Abiquiu. Other school board members weighed in and recommended that events or teams that require long distance travel be given priority opportunity to using the newer buses. Transportation Director Quintana explained that the district currently owns three activity buses, one of which was in the shop for eight months last year. A new activity bus was purchased in October but has not yet been delivered.

Pictured above, school board members Patrick Herrera
and Gilbert Serrano. Valley Daily Post stock photos

Also Wednesday evening the school board heard concerns from Acting Superintendent Johnston that gyms owned by the school district were being used by people without permission. Johnston said she has heard from principals concerned about this use and explained it is creating a liability issue for the school district. A review of gym use throughout the district was requested by board members.

During the Wednesday meeting, the Board also approved the collective bargaining agreement with the teachers union, subject to Public Education Department approval.