November 12, 2004
New Mexico Public Education Department
300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786

Jennifer Chavez
Public Information Officer
(505) 476-0393

New Mexico First Town Hall Focusing on Statewide High School Initiative To Be Held November 18-20

(Santa Fe, NM)—The Public Education Department (PED) announced today it will hold a three-day Statewide High School Town Hall meeting November 18-20 in Rio Rancho at several locations including: the Chamisa Hills Country Club, the National American University and the Best Western Rio Rancho Inn & Conference Center. New Mexico First will facilitate the Town Hall. (Please see attached schedule for a detailed listing of times and locations.)

Dr. Veronica García, Secretary of Education, said, “This is the first Town Hall on the topic of high school reform being offered in New Mexico and we are eagerly anticipating the suggestions that surface after three days of robust discussions. We recognize that comprehensive reforms will be guided by informed decision-making based on data, research and best practices, however we are looking forward to having students among others at the table for these discussions. Students often provide the first-hand knowledge and out-of-the-box thinking that is so vital for revitalization and change.”

The goal of the Town Hall is to reach consensus on how New Mexico high schools can provide opportunities for every student to develop their capabilities for success. “New Mexico, and the nation, is undergoing unprecedented economic, social and demographic shifts. The challenge facing education is how to raise its sights to ensure all students successfully complete high school and are well prepared for post secondary education and the complexities of the workforce,” said Dr. García.

Partnering with the PED to sponsor the Town Hall are: the Commission on Higher Education, the Legislative Education Study Committee, the Legislative Finance Committee, the New Mexico Association for Community Colleges, the New Mexico Association for Career and Technical Education, the New Mexico Coalition of School Administrators, the National Education Association, Albuquerque TVI, Rio Rancho Schools, Portales Schools, the Office of Educational Accountability, The Education Center and the New Mexico Business Roundtable.

Participants will include legislators, students, parents, high school principals, superintendents, higher education representatives, business leaders, tribal leaders and community members. Participants have paid the $200 registration fee and agreed to participate for all three days of the Town Hall. The consensus document that emerges from the Town Hall will be compiled in a full report and made available to the public in December.

Speakers during the Town Hall will include Dr. García and Susan Pimentel of Lilly, Inc., a nationally recognized, non-profit educational consulting firm based in Hanover, NH.

The Schedule is as follows:

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Chamisa Hills Country Club 10:00-12:00 noon
500 Country Club Dr. SE, Rio Rancho, NM
Opening Lunch
Chamisa Hills Country Club 11:30 am -1 pm
Panel Sessions will take place at two locations:
Panels 1,2,3 will meet at the Best Western Rio Rancho Inn 1:30 pm - 5:30 pm
1465 Rio Rancho Dr SE, Rio Rancho NM
Panels 4,5,6 will meet at the National American University 1:30 pm - 5:30 pm
1601 Rio Rancho Dr SE, Rio Rancho
Dinner 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Best Western Rio Rancho Inn

Friday, November 19, 2004
7:00 am - 8:00 am
Best Western Rio Rancho Inn
Panel Sessions
Best Western Rio Rancho Inn 8:00 am - 12:00 pm
Lunch 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm
Panel Sessions
Best Western Rio Rancho Inn 1:45 pm -5:30 pm

Saturday, November 20, 2004
Best Western Rio Rancho Inn
Pick up and review of draft consensus report 7:00 am – 8:00 am
Panels/Breakfast 8:00 am – 10:00 am
Plenary Session 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

For more information, please contact Lena Trujillo-Chavez, director of Career, Technical and Workforce Education Bureau, at (505) 827-6512.