The Pojoaque Valley School Board took a small step towards strengthening the district’s existing bilingual program last week.

With a 3-to-2 vote, the board approved a bilingual licensure requirement policy that will take effect next school year. It will give teachers who have bilingual certification an advantage when it comes to new positions at Pojoaque schools.

The policy reads, “when hiring certified staff to be assigned for a bilingual setting, preference will be given, when all criteria is considered equal, to prospective employees who hold a bilingual and/or TESOL endorsement.” TESOL is the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages certificate.

The policy goes on to state that “elementary or secondary staff assigned to a bilingual or TESOL setting shall possess or need to obtain a bilingual or TESOL education endorsement as required by the Pojoaque Valley School District and in compliance with the Office of Civil Rights.”

Employees who hold a bilingual or TESOL endorsement will receive an additional stipend for such services. Employees possessing the required endorsement who provide bilingual services for an uncertified teacher will receive an additional stipend.

In a lengthy discussion, board members recognized the importance of strengthening the bilingual program within the district. However, the board’s vice-president, Paula Roybal Sanchez, voiced concern with the addition of yet another stipulation for employment with Pojoaque Valley School District when a teacher shortage is plaguing the country.

Prior to approval of the bilingual policy, the board approved routine action items including personnel matters and budget adjustments.

The board also approved the Pojoaque Valley School’s new mission statement. The statement now reads, “the Pojoaque Valley Schools will provide students with the skills and knowledge to enable them to become productive and responsible citizens, exceeding the competencies set forth by the New Mexico State Department of Education.”

Board members reviewed the dates of future community forums. The last forum will take place tomorrow at 1 p.m. at the El Rancho Community Center. Open to the public, this forum will help to determine the use of general obligation bond monies necessary for the repair of rundown school facilities.

The next school-board meeting will start at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 21 at the Pablo Roybal Elementary School Media Center. The public is encouraged to attend.

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