Peñasco School Board to set expectations for superintendent

Two board members recommend workshop 'to have some real clarity' for goals of Hamilton, who is entering her second academic year as superintendent

By Matthew Narvaiz
mnarvaiz@taosnews.com
Posted 6/24/20

Two Peñasco school board members on Wednesday (June 17) proposed a board workshop to address the "goals and expectations" of district Superintendent Lisa …

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Peñasco School Board to set expectations for superintendent

Two board members recommend workshop 'to have some real clarity' for goals of Hamilton, who is entering her second academic year as superintendent

Posted

Two Peñasco school board members on Wednesday (June 17) proposed a board workshop to address the "goals and expectations" of district Superintendent Lisa Hamilton, who had been dismissed from her position and then rehired by the board just three months ago.

Board member Mary Mascareñas made the initial recommendation to go over Hamilton's expectations as superintendent in a future workshop.

Amanda Bissell, the board president, doubled-down on Mascareñas' initial proposal and insisted that the superintendent's expectations be measured by "student outcomes," she said.

Mascareñas couldn't be reached for further comment by press time (June 23).

Hamilton said that her initial goal when hired as superintendent was to increase funding for the school district, which she said she has done already and is continuing to do.

"One of the goals they had for me was to increase funding and I did by a significant amount," Hamilton said.

Bissell, when asked if the initial expectation for Hamilton was to increase funding, said that "I don't know if that was actually one of them. I don't know without looking at what was written to be honest."

Hamilton said that she has made the increase in funding possible by grants she has applied for -- and which the school district has received.

The only competitive grant that was submitted in school year 2018-19, before Hamilton was hired, was the Security Grant in the amount of $27,252. That money was awarded to PISD in school year 2019-20, she said in an email.

That amount wasn't factored into the 2019-20 grants Hamilton applied for, which amounted to nearly $174,000 in grant money.

In the 2020-21 school year, the school district will be receiving $205,000 in grant money, according to Hamilton.

But Bissell said that past superintendents had seen increases in funding, too, though she didn't specify which superintendents in particular.

"I do know that she has been successful at securing grants, but previous superintendents were equally successful," Bissell said.

Hamilton said that it is routine for school boards to hold a workshop in which the board members discuss the goals for the upcoming school year.

"No, that is something that is typically done when you start the beginning of the year and when you are on board as a new superintendent," Hamilton said. "If they are seeking to articulate that again, that is fine."

Bissell seconded that.

"Yeah, that's pretty normal," Bissell said. "We try to define really clear expectations and goals. Preferably they are linked to the outcomes of what the board sees as important for the schools and teachers."

In early June, Hamilton dismissed Marina Lopez, the then-principal of the Peñasco middle school and high school, from her position and reassign her to a position as a fourth-grade teacher.

When asked if the goals and expectations of the superintendent were brought up in response to the reassignment of Lopez, Bissell said, "I can't speak for Ms. Mascareñas, but I don't think we did a great job to be honest of laying out goals and expectations for Ms. Hamilton this last year. I think we could do a better job."

Bissell added: "I think it behooves the school and the board and the superintendent to have some real clarity in that area."

Drama has been swirling in the Peñasco Independent School District for some time now, even before the reassignment of Lopez.

In early March, the board had decided to not renew Hamilton's contract as superintendent, after just one year in that position.

But a few days later on March 9, a special meeting was held because the original vote in which Hamilton was dismissed from her position violated New Mexico's Open Meetings Act; the board then voted 3-2 to renew Hamilton's contract, reversing its original decision.

Bissell and Mascareñas -- both of whom brought up the action of discussing Hamilton's expectations in the June 17 board meeting -- had voted in opposition to renewing Hamilton's contract in March.

The board plans to meet next on July 21.

Peñasco

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