LAS CRUCES – Two opponents head to head again for the seat of the District 2 Public Schools Education Committee in Las Cruces after battling for the temporary vacancy just three months earlier.
Following the abrupt resignation of District 2 School Council member Terrie Dallman on June 3, LCPS called on parishioners to fill the position. On July 6, the school board selected Pamela Cort as the seat.
Henry A. Young was also in the running for the vacant position, but finished fourth out of five candidates.
Both are back and running for positions in District 2, which is mainly in the center of Las Cruces and Mesilla. It includes the Central Elementary, Conlee Elementary, Hermosa Elementary, MacArthur Elementary, Mesilla Park Elementary, Tombaugh Elementary, Valley View Elementary, Lynn Middle, Mesilla Valley Leadership Academy, Zia Middle, Las Cruces High, and Rio Grande Preparatory Institute.
The Doña Ana County Early Voting begins Tuesday, October 5th. Election day on November 2nd.
This year there are three seats on the LCPS school board to choose from: District 1, District 2, and District 3.
Meet the other candidates:
Cort, 60, is a 31-year old former teacher. She has spent most of her career teaching French at Las Cruces High School.
The native New Mexicoer grew up in Santa Fe and often visited Las Cruces, where her mother was from. Cort started at New Mexico State University and then moved to Washington State University for her bachelor’s degree in French.
After Cort briefly worked at a Washington bank, Cort realized that banking wasn’t for her and returned to NMSU for her Masters in curriculum and instruction.
Cort taught in Albuquerque public schools for four years before meeting her husband and returning to Las Cruces in 1992 to teach at LCHS.
When the position became vacant in June, Cort said she never considered running for the school board until a friend suggested applying for the temporary seat.
“I’ve attended school board meetings, so many,” said Cort. “I feel too young to retire, but I just wanted to step out of the classroom a bit, even though I miss it like crazy. I thought guess what, I could really work on something positive.” Changes in education at the political level. “
Cort had less than a month on the board before she had to submit a candidacy in August, but she felt it was important for her to stand up for the position and to agree with the students.
She said it was a steep learning curve to join the board of directors. On September 21st, with the help of the county councils, Cort presented its first decision to plan after-school activity buses for middle and high school students.
Cort said this resolution was just the beginning of their mission to bring justice to the school district.
“Every brain works differently,” said Cort. “It is really important that the students have a community, that they have found their tribe in the school, that they have a community or that they have a person who can help them with whatever they need. I think our schools work very well with that. “
She added that creating equitable opportunities in the school will help students feel comfortable finding a supportive community.
Cort said she fully supports the fair grading system and community school programs. She also agrees to the district’s safe COVID-19 procedures, which follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Although Cort retired from LCHS in 2019, she said she still has many connections with LCPS that she regularly keeps up with.
“I’ve been in the classroom for 31 years,” said Cort. “I know what’s going on on the first floor.”
Cort was named New Mexico Teacher of the Year in 2013. She said the experience first opened her up to educational policy. She also used the corresponding scholarship to study pedagogy at Walden University, which she completed in January 2019.
Henry A. Young
Young, 71, is basically a native of Las Cruces who moved here from Ruidoso when he was around 4 years old. He attended Conlee Elementary, Lynn Middle, and LCHS while growing up.
Young briefly studied accounting at NMSU but moved to California to earn his pastorship certificate before graduation. He said he took a few education courses here and there in California.
After 11 years in California, Young returned to Las Cruces. He has been director and chaplain of the Las Cruces Gospel Rescue Mission since 2017 and has volunteered there for almost 20 years.
“I have a desire, of course, to help people in general because I work in missions,” said Young. “The real reason I want to achieve is the reintegration of parents into the school system. Many parents have given up the right to really hold on to the educational process and to be part of it.”
Young said the pandemic – especially mask requirements and vaccinations – have polarized parents and he hopes to find a solution to find common ground.
Young hopes to hold more informal meetings with the public. He said he recently attended a meeting with LCPS superintendent Ralph Ramos and current board chairman Ray Jaramillo that he felt was very useful to the community.
He also hopes to have more community-centered board meetings where Dr. Karen M. Trujillo in the city center regular meetings are held in various school gyms and cafeterias. This is a common practice in the Gadsden Independent School District.
“If you can see the needs in each individual school, then you have a better overall picture, you can find similarities and diversity where more is needed at one school than at another.”
Young’s stance is that he plans to watch for the first few months to a year to get a feel for what it’s like to sit on the board before getting on and trying to change things.
He wants to listen to the community, ask questions, and occasionally comment on it as he gains a foothold. He offered some ideas on what he would like to change over time if he is elected.
“There has to be an equitable process to try and meet the needs,” said Young. “That costs more money. That’s the other area I’d like to see addressed – after that year of review or a period of time – getting more money into the classroom by maybe retiring some of the administrators early because when it doesn’t come into the classroom and we pay too much upstairs, it is absolutely not good for the students. “
Young wants to get more money for teachers and assistants and encourage parents to do volunteer work in their children’s schools.
Young said he would bring a new way of thinking with his age – he’s the oldest candidate on the school board – and ministerial background.
Miranda Cyr, a member of the Report for America corps, can be reached at [email protected] or @mirandabcyr on Twitter. Show your support for the Report for America program at https://bit.ly/LCSNRFA.