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Six candidates are running for the open board position in District Four of Las Cruces Public Schools: Bill Zarges, Jesus Favela, Jeffrey Silva, Teresa Tenorio, Janice Marie Williams and Margaret Mendoza. We have previously run info on Tenorio, and below are profiles and reports on Zarges, Silva and Favela.
We have received no information from Williams or Mendoza, but you can learn about them and other candidates in the League of Women Voters of Southern New Mexico Voter’s Guide published in the Bulletin Oct. 5. You can access that edition in the Bulletin archives at www.lascrucesbulletin.com. The guide begins on page 39 of the electronic edition.
Bill Zarges said his primary reason for running for school board is to use his previous experience on school boards to raise the academic performance of students in Las Cruces.
Zarges earned a bachelor’s degree in business and master’s in education at Southern New Hampshire University. He served for 12 years on school boards in New Hampshire before retiring to Las Cruces. From 2012-2018, he served four terms on the Doña Ana Planning and Zoning Commission and was heavily involved with the drafting and implementation of the County Unified Development Code and Vision 2040 Comprehensive Plan. — Bulletin Report
Jeffrey Silva a dedicated father of three, a bank executive and community volunteer, is running for District 4.
“I have watched the current administration over the past four years and would like to offer some innovative solutions to our children’s education,” Silva said. “I have the passion, experience and knowledge and realize that now is the time to help make a difference. My mother was a dedicated teacher for over 40 years and as her son, I have observed the impact she has made on children’s education through multiple generations. I am committed to the safety, education and the well-being of all the children of Las Cruces.”
Silva holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder and an MBA from Capella University. He is the current board chair of Cuidandos Los Niños and a current board member of Children Harvest Home. His past experience on boards includes the following: board chair of the March of Dimes, board chair of Las Cruces Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, board chair of Bernalillo Chamber of Commerce and board member of Las Cruces Downtown Partnership. He is involved with the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce and one of his most recognized community involvements is the “Team Zane Celebrity Waiter” event. Team Zane was created after a difficult start to his son Zane’s birth and a promise to the Lord, that if Zane’s life was spared, Silva would pay it forward to non-profits associated with children. Silva stayed true to his promise and in collaboration with the community; to date, the event has raised nearly $400,000 to help the children of Las Cruces. — Bulletin Report
“I want children to have a quality education, not just now but in the future,” District 4 candidate Jesus Favela said.
Favela, 32, a Las Cruces native who graduated from Mayfield High School, has two bachelor’s degrees in engineering from New Mexico State University and works in the engineering field. He is married with a one-year-old daughter. He has never run for public office, and said he will bring a new, younger voice needed on the school board.
Favela said his background in science and engineering will mean a different way of looking at LCPS challenges and opportunities. And, as an “outsider” who doesn’t have a direct connection to the schools, he will bring a fresh perspective and new ideas to the school board so it doesn’t operate as “one little think box.”
A recent example, he said, is Columbia Elementary School, which was closed because of a mold problem, with students sent to Centennial High School. Moving young students to a high school was a bad idea, Favela said. Instead, they should have been placed in other elementary schools near Columbia so they could remain in the same environment. If he’d been on the school board at the time, Favela said he would have asked teachers for their input and would have looked at other options instead of choosing CHS because it was the easiest choice.
Favela said specific needs of teachers also should be better addressed. For example, he said, there should be a room at each school for teachers who are nursing infants and someone to cover their classroom duties for 15-30 minutes a day while they are pumping breast milk. The city and county both provide this accommodation, and LCPS should as well, Favela said, noting that the school district makes similar accommodations for other staff and students.
The district needs more social workers and psychologists, Favela said, and teachers should have more input in making staffing decisions.
In addressing teacher shortages, Favela said, the issue is more administration support than it is salary. “Young teachers are not getting the help and support,” he said. As a result, many are leaving the profession in their first five years.
Favela, who grew up speaking Spanish, said the LCPS bilingual program lacks a clear mission and should focus more on getting Spanish speakers into English-speaking classrooms to better help them become proficient in English. Favela said he got out of bilingual ed classes in the fourth grade and moved into regular classrooms, where he was able to “understand everything better,” he said.
Favela said he’s not asking for any donations to his campaign for school board. The money can be better used elsewhere, like in a donation to La Casa, Inc. domestic violence program or Gospel Rescue Mission. — Mike Cook