Editor’s note: This is the first of five interviews with the finalists for the Portales School Superintendent position:
Jack Burch is the current superintendent at Elida Schools.
Q: What aspects of your job will translate to the superintendent job?
A: The aspects of being a superintendent will translate to the Portales Schools superintendent. Adjustments will need to be made, (such as) being able to work with various directors and being able to trust other people with various tasks.
Q: What stands out about Portales schools from your observations?
Strengths: The community and the area. My grandfather was in Roosevelt County in 1906. It is the people and the community which make our schools strong.
Needs Improvements: It’s hard to say until I get a better feel and understanding. I have to get together with staff and find out from them. I don’t want to just slash and burn. Some things may only need fine-tuning.
Q: What qualifies you for the position?
A: I’ve had five years of experience with legislators and public education personnel. I’ve attended public education department meetings. Being there as they make changes monthly. Being there all this time and watching where we are going.
Q: None of Portales schools met AYP, your impressions of that and what needs to be done to fix it?
A: There again, you can’t just slash and burn. As I understand there was a subgroup (that brought the schools below standards). We need to find out what’s going on with each subgroup. It’s a continuing process. (We could be ) networking with other districts that are the same size like Artesia and understanding the issues. Why invent the wheel when someone else is rolling?
Q: What’s the biggest challenge the district is facing?
A: There again, I would have to find out. All districts face budgetary issues.
Q: Is there a way to make budget cuts that won’t effect instruction?
A: Yes, there is. Until I am able to get a feel and data, it’s hard to say where to cut back. I don’t want to speculate. It’s real difficult to say. You don’t just slash and burn where I come from.
Q: What must be done to make sure the online classes and moving of Broad Horizons Educational Center are successes?
A: In small districts, we are going to be unable to meet a lot of the mandates that are coming forward without some distance learning. Dr. (James) Holloway and I have been working on the (online classes) set up and how can they benefit the Elidas, the Doras, Floyds — the other surrounding districts. As we continue forward and we again are facing career pathways we’ve got to give options to the children.
Distance learning forwards Portales to offer more and varied subjects than what you offer now.
The online classes can succeed. It takes a different mindset. (Students) have to understand why we’re offering online classes. There’s a greater responsibility on their part.
I’ve heard of the move (BHEC to Portales High School campus). I’m saying there must have been a reason they made the decision. I’m not going to second-guess at this point.