October 2017 Column

   Hobbs Municipal School has surpassed another enrollment milestone.  The 40th day of school is used by the Public Education Department to measure growth among districts.  If a district exceeds 1 percent growth over the previous year, the district will receive additional funding in January.  HMS took a gamble this year in preparing its annual budget.  We budgeted for growth.  The data we studied earlier in the Spring led us to believe the oil field was improving.  We did not see the normal loss of students at the end of the  school year.  We based our budget on an additional125  students over the previous year.  If the enrollment had been less than predicted, HMS would have lost $410,000 in state-reduced payments.  Fortunately, we exceeded our projection.  Hobbs Municipal Schools has seen its student enrollment increase by 2,200 students in the past ten years.  

A recent article in the Midland newspaper stated that city is experiencing 2 percent growth annually or 600 students per year.  Their current enrollment is 25,000 students and they project 32,000 students in ten years. With growth comes change.  Hobbs has seen an increase in traffic as well as retail stores. 

During my quarterly evaluation with the Board of Education, I expressed my interest in addressing the challenges of student growth as well as getting community input on topics that will enable our school district to make decisions reflective of community needs. Here are some ideas:

               How do we address continued growth?  Look at existing campus boundaries to ensure we are utilizing our existing facilities to their fullest.  Is there a need for additional facilities?  Is there a need to replace/remodel any existing facilities?

    What about funding?   HMS currently has $25 million in bonding capacity.  The state of New Mexico allows districts to bond 6 percent of its taxable value.  HMS will have another $9.5 million available in 2020 when an existing bond matures. In addition, a recent article listed HMS as providing the highest percent of operational funds going towards the classroom. According to the 2016-17 Stat Book on New Mexico Public Education’s website Hobbs is still one of the least per pupil funded district’s in the state.  Since 2008-09 HMS has added 57 teachers.  The number of Central Office staff has remained unchanged during this growth.

·          Eliminating the assessment discussion from the table, how do we manage to improve the quality of academic performance for our students?  HMS needs to ensure that the community understands current trends we are addressing with instruction. I believe it’s time to have the discussion about anytime learning.  We have students that have a difficult time meeting the 8 a.m.-3:20 p.m. demands because they are expected to have a job and help their family.  We also see students with health issues that struggle in their existing learning environment.

·            Heres a bulletin: You do not have to attend college to be successful in life. Vocational/Technical skilled jobs are high paying and in high demand.  Students who track towards vocational trades still have academic demands, but we could look at different methods of instructional delivery.  HMS would like to have the conversation of addressing vocational skills at the county level.  This is an Economic Development issue.  We can help provide quality skilled labor if we have the resources to train our students.  This would help in recruitment and retention of our workforce.

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HMS will host a community focus group to discuss these and other topics at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7 in our Training Center located at the corner of Sanger and Seminole Highway.  This is open to the public and will be one of many meetings planned throughout the school year. 

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