PRESS RELEASE - September 26, 2003
New Mexico State Department
of Education

300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786

Ruth Williams
Public Outreach Director
(505) 476-0393

Sidney Gutierrez Middle School Becomes First Charter To Receive Five-Year Extension

(Santa Fe, NM)--Sidney Gutierrez Middle School in Roswell became the state's first charter school to receive a five-year extension of its charter, commencing with the 2004-2005 school year. The Roswell Independent Schools granted the extension in September. The school is among 11 charter schools that are seeking charter renewals from their local districts this year.

“Sidney Gutierrez Middle School is the first to receive a five-year extension of its charter, exemplifying the positive relationship that exists between the charter school and its authorizing district,” said Dr. Michael A. Kaplan, director of the New Mexico State Department of Education’s (SDE) Alternative Education Unit.

The school, named for astronaut Sidney M. Gutierrez, the first native New Mexican to command a space shuttle, began operations in August 2001 for a three-year term. The school serves approximately 60 students in grades 6-8. Each grade has only one class, with a maximum of 20 students per grade.

The school provides a unique middle school environment that emphasizes technology-based tools, Core Knowledge curriculum aligned with New Mexico’s academic content standards and benchmarks and community participation and involvement. Classes emphasize thematic, project-based and discovery learning methodologies. The school’s students develop skills that support and enhance their academic achievements, such as teamwork, self-sufficiency, work ethic and community service.

The charter school was rated as “exceeds standards” for the 2003-2004 school year.

The other charter schools that are seeking renewals include the following: Albuquerque – Amy Biehl Charter High School, East Mountain High School, 21st Century Charter School and South Valley Academy; Clayton – Amistad Charter School; Jemez Valley – San Diego Riverside Charter School; Santa Fe – Academy for Technology and the Classics, Monte del Sol Charter School and Turquoise Trail Elementary; and Taos – Taos Municipal Charter School.

All renewal applications are due to each charter school’s authorizing district by January 1, 2004. San Diego Riverside submitted its application in July 2003 and is awaiting a decision from the Jemez Valley Municipal Schools board of education.