By Tony Parra
The only thing standing in the way of the Broad Horizons Educational Center moving to the Portales High School campus is the approval from the school board at Monday’s 7 p.m. board meeting.
James Holloway, superintendent of Portales Schools, discussed his reasons for a move during a public hearing on Thursday for recommending this move to the school board.
“What I have presented is a wider variety of opportunities four our students than we can offer today,” Holloway said. “I have guaranteed no one will lose their jobs because of the move. No staff currently at Broad Horizons or Portales High School will be released due to the move.”
The majority of the audience in the Portales High School Auditorium was composed of teachers.
Holloway stated that there are other issues not directly related to BHEC, such as whether or not the school district will receive enough money from the state to adequately pay for the next phase of the three-tier licensure that can determine personnel cuts.
Holloway said the school district is going to have to pay for an additional $684,000 in teacher salaries to move up some of the teachers to $40,000 a year as part of the licensure’s next phase.
Tther options are being considered, such as moving BHEC next to Lindsey Elementary, move it next to Valencia Elementary or keep it where it is currently located on Community Way.
Holloway said to keep BHEC in its present location would cost approximately $100,000, which in the short term would be cheaper than moving it to the Portales High School campus.
However, Holloway said the connectivity of BHEC with the high school, technology updates such as fiber optics and one other major factor could improve opportunities for BHEC students — they could be offered chemistry or trigonometry classes that they don’t have access in the present location.
“This is a difficult thing for people who work at Broad Horizons,” Mary Lou Rowley, school board member, said. “You have to trust Dr. Holloway and what he is saying is the truth. We are responsible for all of the kids. We believe we are doing the right thing for the community in Portales.”
According to Holloway, in the long run the move would make more financial sense. Holloway said a deficit has been created at BHEC because of the decline of enrollment. Enrollment numbers generate funding from the state for each school district.
Enrollment at BHEC was 131 for the 2001-02 school year, but has dropped to 79 students for the 2004-05 school year. The money generated from enrollment amounts to $303,034. However, the operating cost in the same year is projected at $639,153, creating a deficit of $639,153.
In comparison, 688 PHS students have generated $2.639 million in revenue against $2,297,798 in operation costs for a revenue total of $341,283.
The teacher to student ratio at BHEC is one teacher to every 10 students, while at PHS it is one to every 17 students on average.
The new location of four portable buildings for day care and Broad Horizons students is in between the old industrial building and the high school gym.
The proposal also includes the creation of a play area for day care children and a parking lot behind the gym for the BHEC. Holloway said it would cost $100,000 to renovate the industrial building for BHEC use and approximately $30,000 for three portables to be placed next to the one portable in between the industrial building and gym.
Holloway is also proposing that two portable buildings on the south part of the campus (next to the high school baseball field) be used for administrative and instructional purposes.