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Friday, December 8, 2000

Block scheduling dispute at high school continues

Staff Writer

PECOS, December 8, 2000 - The question of block scheduling at Pecos High School remains a hot topic among teachers and officials with the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD, and will again be discusses next Thursday, during the school board's regular monthly meeting.

The subject was discussed at the November regular school board meeting. Several teachers spoke on behalf of the current school schedule, which is "modified block" schedule.

According to PHS teacher Nancy Russell, teachers, students and parents overwhelmingly support staying with the school's current "modified block" schedule.

Russell said that school administrators plan to recommend to the school board that the schedule be changed to a seven period schedule, which has been employed in the past by P-B-T ISD.

Superintendent Don Love defended plans to revert to the old scheduling. "My concern is the falling of TAAS scores at the high school," he said, adding that administrators have been looking at the different schedules and have gathered a lot of information on which schedules work the best.

"This is something we've been looking into," said Love. "We want to do what is right for the kids, we'll be looking at the different schedules and it will be discussed again at the next school board meeting."

Love said high schools in Monahans, Fort Stockton and Alpine which have run block scheduling have returned to the traditional seven-period class schedules for their schools.

Under the present system, the day is divided into five classes. The first and last class of each day is about one hour and meets every day.

In between there are three class periods of about 1½ hours each. Classes during these periods meet every other day so that a student will have one set of three classes on "gold" days and second set of three classes on "purple" days.

According to Russell, most teachers teach first and eighth period classes and also teach two of the three 1½ hour periods each day, leaving one 90-minute period for preparation.

"Teachers need this time to prepare for their classes," she said.

Russell was on the committee formed in 1994 to look into block scheduling. At the time the district was under a "period" schedule with kids going to the same classes every day for about an hour.

"We did the research, visited other schools, talked with teachers and administrators, and brought back the information to the board," said Russell. "The result was our recommendation that the district move to block scheduling and the school board followed our recommendation."

"The benefits of block scheduling are tremendous. This type of schedule benefits students and our tests scores over the last five years are evidence," she said.

"I think this is an administration decision," said board vice-president Earl Bates.

Bates said that as far as scheduling, the administration wants to do what is in the best interest of Pecos High School. "It's not a board decision," said Bates. "All the principals at the schools are the ones that make the academics and discipline decisions, so it's Danny Rodriguez', responsibility to decide what is in the best interest of the students," said Bates.

Board member Steve Valenzuela said that it seems like the teachers are acting on rumors. "It doesn't really make a difference which schedule the students are on, as long as the children have the best schedule _ what's best for the students," said Valenzuela. "I think the decision will be what is best for the students."

Russell said that the year after Love was hired as superintendent, he modified the block schedule system to include a ninth period.

"That was a disaster. The next year we modified the schedule again to include the one-hour first and last periods we have now. This is not as good as a true block schedule, but it is much better than the eight period/day schedule that the administration wants to implement," she said.

Russell is also a member of the Campus Improvement Committee or CIC, which is a state-mandated committee known statewide as a Site Based Committee. Every campus has one and it consists of the principal for the campus, teachers and community members, she said.

In the last meeting of the CIC, high school principal Danny Rodriguez told committee members that the only two choices were either more heavily modified block schedule or a seven-period day.

"I personally welcome any and all comments, both for and against the scheduling," said school board president Louis Matta. "Some of the proponents have not been telling the whole truth, though, I've heard a lot of stories."

The school board's position is addressing the falling TAAS scores and that's our main concern, according to Matta.

"We will listen to the recommendation of the superintendent and administrative staff before we make a decision," said Matta. "I personally haven't made a decision one way or another."

According to Russell, the district's plan for modifying the current block schedule consists of having teachers teach one more class. Instead of having one free period each day for preparation, teachers would have one free period every other day.

"A preparation period is necessary for effective teaching," she said. "The district might be able to get by with fewer teachers this way, but the students' education will suffer," she said. "This is not in the students' best interest."

The consensus of the CIC is that neither of these options is acceptable, according to Russell.

Russell is also a member of the Scheduling Committee _ an informal committee of teachers that started meeting when they heard that the district was considering modifying the schedule.

"The positive effects of block scheduling like we have now far outweigh the negatives," she said.

Russell also said that students, teachers and parents had been surveyed as to their preference of scheduling.

According to the survey, 510 students, 216 parents and 44 teachers supported keeping the system as it is compared to 16 students, six parents and three teachers supporting a change back to an eight-period day schedule.

"CIC has met and they have come to us with their findings," said Love.

Love said that the research the administration has done on scheduling for the high school will be presented to the board at Thursday's meeting, set for 6 p.m. in the P-B-T board room.

Commissioners preparing for long meeting

PECOS, December 8, 2000 - Reeves County Commissioners have a lengthy agenda to go over on Monday, with nearly three dozen items listed for discussion and action when they meet at 9:45 a.m. on the third floor courtroom of the Reeves County Courthouse. The public is invited to attend.

The commissioners are expecting a long day, and already have a 6 p.m. start time scheduled for discussion and action in a Public Hearing on Reeves County's Parks and Recreation Master Plan. It's one of the last of the 35 agenda items listed for the meeting.

To start off on Monday, commissions will discuss a letter of intent between Reeves County and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center; DRG Architect request for payment invoice no. 218-support building finish out; DRG Architect request for payment invoice no. 219-expense reimbursement; Banes General Contractors request for payment no. 2-racquetball court and Banes General Contractors request for payment no. 3 _ support building finish out.

The group will also discuss and take action to authorize extending the five-day limit on vacation time for Reeves County employees; RCDC assistant warden contract between Reeves County and Manuel Gomez; FY 2001 holidays; storage for courthouse departments; request for proposal #19-00 general liability insurance; request for proposal #20-00 auto liability and physical damage insurance; request for proposal #23-00 real/personal property insurance-heavy equipment insurance; request for bids #24-00 asphalt-oils-emulsions; request for bids #25-00 discarded food products; request for bids #26-00 surface aggregates; request for bids #27-00 motor fuel-oil-antifreeze; request for bids #28-00 janitor supplies; request for bids #29-00 inmate clothing; request for bids #30-00 employee uniforms; request for bids #31-00 inmate food and kitchen supplies; request for bids #34-00 dental services; #35-00 request for proposals for physician-medical director services and #36-00 medical laboratory services.

In other business the court will discuss and take action on modification of bid award No. 33-2000 inmate restraints-GT Distributors, Inc.; bond and oath-Yvonne Abila; Reeves County Road and Bridge maintenance plan-working session and Reeves County Health Care-employee benefits-working session.

Under regular business the group sill discuss and take action on reports from various departments; budget amendments and line-item transfers; personnel and salary changes (RCDC); minutes from previous meetings and semi-monthly bills.

Workers preparing for lighting ceremony

Staff Writer

PECOS, December 8, 2000 - Final touches were being done outside the Reeves County Courthouse and Reeves County Jail this morning, to make sure everything was in order for tonight's Christmas lighting ceremony.

The Courthouse lights will be turned on after the Christmas parade tonight, beginning around 6:45 p.m.

County employee Erasmo Acosta said preparations to light the entire courthouse, jail and surrounding shrubs and trees began about the middle of November.

Acosta said the county had to do some rewiring in order to accommodate the number of lights being strung.

"We had some help from the electrical department from the RCDC," he said.

Acosta said Pecos Fire Chief Ray Pena and Joe Valdez were the people who helped with the rewiring.

As soon as the rewiring was finished, Acosta and Pena started putting up the thousands of feet of Christmas lights.

Randy Baeza, Administrative Assistant to County Judge Jimmy Galindo started a program this year called "Sponsor a Tree," allows organizations to decorate a tree around the Courthouse.

"We're trying to get some organizations to help light the trees," he said.

Baeza said seven organizations participated this year.

"I hope we have more participation next year," he said. "Some organizations had to take two to make sure all of them were decorated."

Baeza said next year they would start preparing for the Christmas lighting earlier to make sure everything gets done.

Acosta said many lights were used to cover the Courthouse and jail as well as all the shrubs.

He said approximately 125 boxes of lights were used on the shrubs, about 50 strands of lights are on the trees and about 750 feet of lights were ordered for the jail.

Acosta said he just replaced broken bulbs on the lights that cover the Courthouse.

Today, Acosta and Pena started double-checking everything so the lighting would go smoothly tonight.

They started setting timers so the lights would come on everyday at 6:30 p.m. and shut off at midnight.

Acosta said the lights would come back on at about 6 a.m. and shut off again at 7:30 a.m., everyday.

"So you actually get to see them early in the morning or at night," he said.

The lighting ceremony will begin after the parade finishes on the Oak Street side of the courthouse.

Line up for the parade is 5 p.m., at the Pecos High School parking lot, and it will begin at 6 p.m., starting on Jefferson and will travel down Eddy Street to Third Street and then turn down Oak Street to the Courthouse.

One of area's oldest cemeteries known by two different names

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is one in a continuing series of features on historical graveyards and funerals in the Pecos region
By The Ghost Writer

PECOS, December 8, 2000 - The Cowboy, sometimes called Pioneer, Cemetery is located west of Mt. Evergreen Cemetery and northeast of Greenwood Cemetery. It is one of the oldest in this area. Many of the markers are weathered and it is difficult to read the inscription. One seemed to say that the child was buried in 1880 or 1888. This was before Henry Ford invented his Model T auto. I thought that you would see horse and wagon tracks; however, an old timer thinks that he remembered a quarter inch rain in 1910 that washed out the tracks.

This is part of section 18, Block 5 H&GN and was transferred to the Mt Evergreen Cemetery, Inc. which then established the perpetual care cemetery. For some unknown reason, the County Judge assumed that the land belonged to Reeves County and began burying people in the area that is now known as Greenwood Cemetery. Mt. Evergreen people took offense at this and negations were started that eventually resulted in Reeves County providing the water for all the cemeteries.

Paul Coody maintains Cowboy Cemetery with some donations from people who own plots in the there and plan to use them when their time comes. Mr. Coody thinks that the owner of that area did not plan to transfer the entire area to Mt. Evergreen but mistakenly did so. He also is having trouble using water when he wants to and that is a subject that I dare not get into.

While discussing with some friends what the ancient ones placed in the graves of their people to prepare them for their after life such as clothes, tools, food etc., they all felt that I should take a truck load of fire extinguishers with me. With that unkind remark, I decided that they would no longer have the privilege of reading my exciting stories about graveyards. There will be a new series next week. "How to pick better friends."

Band Boosters to hold meeting Monday night

PECOS, December 8, 2000 - The Pecos Eagle Band Boosters will meet during a "Called Meeting" at 7 p.m., Monday, in the band hall at Pecos High School

All members are urged to attend this very important meeting.


PECOS, December 8, 2000 - High Thursday 71. Low this morning 41. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Low 30 to 35. Southeast wind 5 to 10 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy and warmer. High 65 to 70. Southwest wind 10 to 20 mph. Saturday night: Partly cloudy. Low 30 to 35. Sunday: Partly cloudy and warm. High around 70. Monday: Partly cloudy and cooler. Low around 30. High 45 to 55.

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Pecos Enterprise
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