President's Message

Claire Cieremans, President

If I had to describe this year’s budget development experience in a single word, I would choose the word “diamond.” Diamonds are cut with many facets and each facet is inspected and analyzed to determine how to mount the stone to achieve the highest clarity and beauty. Each facet of the budget examines options available to us and each facet was a difference iteration of the budget. It seemed like we rebuilt the budget a dozen times until we reached our final decision. In the end, we make the decisions that have the greatest impact for our students' learning.

While we have been working on budget, our NMASBO Team has been working on implementing a new software system to benefit the members. This newsletter will be devoted to the implementation of the new system to help you navigate the system and get the most out of your members with NMASBO.

Have a great summer and we will see you at the Fall Conference on September 18 – 20 in Las Cruces at Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces.

From the Executive Director's Desk

Terry Dean, Executive Director

This has been a difficult and challenging budget year. How many different budgets did you develop before you arrived at the final budget? There were a lot of changes, challenges and choices that had to be made to get the budget finished. Now, you are working on getting everything caught up before the end of the fiscal year. The last thing you want to deal with is more change. I get it.

When I became the Executive Director of NMASBO, I knew the staff wanted to implement a new software to help us manage the association. The prior software didn’t work well for us anymore. As we evaluated different software packages, our top priority was member benefit; “How will the software benefit the members?” We selected a software product that is used by 14 other state ASBO affiliates and we are convinced the product will help us take NMASBO to the next level. However, we are still learning the software and we will have some bumps along the road.

On June 3rd, we flipped the switch and launched our new software platform. You have been sent information containing links to instructional videos and, hopefully, you have logged into the system and updated your profile. One of the major strengths of the new software is that it provides our members the capability to interact within "Community Groups." Upon the initial launch, we created the General Membership Community Group. We will launch more community groups, as needed. Some of the communities will be closed groups, like the “SFO Study Group” or “Boot Camp,” and some groups will be open to all members. We will work very hard to communicate the groups to you as we launch each area.

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room-the Listserv. We will try to maintain the listserv, as it currently exists, through June 30. However, the General Membership Community Group is designed to replace the current listserv. The General Membership Community Group operates like a social networking site. Most of us have a Facebook account. Within our communities, you can post your question and receive responses. This is a professional community. Therefore, posts regarding your political opinion on issues are not permitted on the site.

Some of the other benefits we will receive from the new software include:

  • Enhanced ability for members to retrieve Continuing Education Certificates.
  • Enhanced ability for registering for conferences and training.
  • Enhanced sharing of forms and practice aids.

We hope you find the new website useful and we will be sharing more information as it is available in the General Membership Community Group. If you haven’t done so already, update your profile and upload a photo.

See you at the Fall Conference on September 18 – 20 at Hotel Encanto in Las Cruces.

Wait ~ Don’t Send Yet!

Audrey Jaramillo, JAG Managing Partner

Have you ever hit the "Send" button on an email or text and your heart sank when you realized you didn’t double-check something well enough? Have you ever submitted your audited financials to the NM State Auditor’s Office (OSA) and, to your dismay, found out the next year that your funds or disclosures in your financial statements were not correct? Or even sooner, found out when you went to reconcile your PED cash schedule to the audit and it did not balance. This can result in an unwanted Financial Close & Reporting finding and, possibly A Prior Period Restatement.

At the Fall NMASBO Conference, we will be presenting Wait ~ Don’t Send Yet! – a class about what you are required to check in your draft financial statements and what you must do before your auditor hits the "Send" button to OSA. (Reminder: District/Charter audit deadline is November 15th each year.)

No one gets excited about checking boxes, right? Okay, maybe some of us accounting/administrators do. Checklists are not much fun, just like all the rules and regulations they represent. BUT, they do keep us safe and on the right track.

Don’t want to wait until the Fall to learn more? Take a look at this checklist to get ideas: https://www.saonm.org/media/uploads/FY_18_Report_Review_Guide_for_audits.pdf

We will provide other resources and checklists at the training – see you in September!

The Children's Hope Foundation

Teresa Scott, Region 3

The fiscal year is rapidly coming to an end and I am certain we all have a lot of accomplishments of which we can be proud. We can all be proud of the joint effort of business officials in the State of New Mexico in our Social Responsibility Campaign. School business officials are some of the most selfless and giving individuals in our communities. I love to see us come together in a way that is visible to the public so they can have some insight into how we do so much to help children.

If you attended Spring Budget Workshop, you had the opportunity to see the fruition of the 2018-2019 Social Responsibility Campaign when we presented a check to The Children's Hope Foundation in the amount of $2,867.62. My heart goes out to you all for making this happen. As stated before, their mission: "Today the foundation has expanded its mission to provide healthy beginnings, growth opportunities and crisis intervention for families with children who are not only fighting cancer, but also heart disease and birth defects."

Claire Cieremans, NMASBO President & Debbie Joslin, The Children's Hope Foundation Executive Director

Our efforts on behalf of The Children's Hope Foundation was our 4th Annual Social Responsibility Campaign and I hope you all agree that the check presentation is one of the highlights of our Spring Budget Workshop each year. Now I invite you all to give some thoughts to an organization that does the same and bombard NMASBO with your suggestions of an organization that we can help in the 2019-2020 Social Responsibility Campaign. Nothing would make me happier than if we had so many great suggestions that we had to vote for which one to do next year.

As we wrap things up this year, I just want to conclude with a big thank you for being you. When I meet people and they ask what I do, I am always proud to say that I am School Business Official because I am part of a select group of dedicated individuals. So, be proud of yourselves, business officials; you are vital people in your communities and they are fortunate to have you.

2019 SBO of the Year Award

Teresa Scott, Region 3

NMASBO is committed to developing public awareness and appreciation of public school business leaders and the value they add to the daily operations of schools. We do this through recognizing the School Business Official of the Year, which is awarded annually at the Spring Budget in Albuquerque, NM.

When you see Tami Coleman from Albuquerque Public Schools, be sure to congratulate her. Mrs. Coleman was chosen as NMASBO/AXA’s School Business Official of the Year for 2019. Her colleagues, Superintendent and other staff recognize her as an outstanding leader. Here are few quotes from her nomination letters:

Tami Coleman, Albuquerque Public Schools

“Her leadership, years of experience in school business, decision makings skills, and strategic vision has accelerated APS to operate efficiently and effectively. She has had to deal with budget cuts, bond elections, high profile issues, legislative issues and other school business critical issues and always presents herself professionally, knowledgeable, and with the utmost ethics.” – Rennette Apodaca, Executive Director - Procurement of Albuquerque Public Schools

“Not long ago, New Mexico went through hard economic times and public entity budgets were slashed. I joined APS after the district removed $25 million from its operational budget and assisted in the removal of an additional $12 million. Mrs. Coleman's leadership was invaluable and evident during that time, and it remains so as we begin to see an infusion of funds. She works collaboratively with the entire Cabinet to develop processes so that the money is used thoughtfully and effectively. There was an initial rush to reinstate positions or programs that were eliminated, but Mrs. Coleman slowed this by demanding a review of outcomes. She insists we maintain a tight focus on our students and their needs.” – Scott Elder, Chief Operations Officer of Albuquerque Public Schools

It is an honor to serve on the committee that chose these outstanding professionals for this award. I want to say a special thank you to the full committee that assisted in this process: Sandra Ashcroft, Claire Cieremans, Los Lunas Public Schools; Martin Romine, Zuni Public Schools; Thad Phipps, Artesia Public Schools and Sandy Traczyk, Los Lunas Public Schools .


Chris Parrino, Charter Rep

The following represents an overview of NMPSIA programs and a financial update. Should you desire more information, feel free to contact Mr. Chris Parrino, NMPSIA School Business Official Board Representative at cparrino@mrgcharter.org. You may also contact Ms. Ernestine Chavez, Executive Director, NMPSIA, at ernestine.chavez@state.nm.us, or Mr. Richard Valerio, Deputy Director, at Richard.valerio@state.nm.us, or call 1.800.548.3724.


The NMPSIA Board, at its March meeting, recognized and thanked Mr. Lowell Irby for his many years of service and dedication for serving on the NMPSIA Board. Mr. Irby represented the New Mexico School Boards Association.

The Board welcomed Ms. Pauline Jaramillo, President, New Mexico School Boards Association, for her recent appointment to the NMPSIA Board.


Ms. Ernestine Chavez serves as the NMPSIA Executive Director. Ms. Chavez oversees all NMPSIA related services, including the Risk and Benefits Programs.

Mr. Richard Valerio serves as Deputy Director. Mr. Valerio assists Ms. Chavez with managing the work of the agency and continues to work jointly with the CFO in overseeing the agency’s budget and Financial Division.

Mr. Patrick Sandoval serves as Chief Financial Officer. Mr. Sandoval works primarily with the agency’s budget and investments and oversees the Financial Division.

Ms. Melissa Rael joined the NMPSIA Finance Department recently. She brings many years of state government financial experience to the Agency.

Benefits Division

The NMPSIA Board approved a lower medical premium increase than anticipated for FY20. There will be a blended medical premium increase of 5.6% (5.9% increase on the High Option Medical Plans and EPO Medical Plan, and a 3.1% increase on the Low Option Medical Plan). The dental plan increase will be 5%. The dental plan premium has not increased for several years and claims have been outpacing revenue. These rates go into effect on October 1, 2019. There will be no medical plan changes.

NMPSIA has confirmed dates for the upcoming Regional Benefits Education Trainings. They will be held from 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. on the following dates:

  • July 15, 2019 and July 16, 2019 – Albuquerque
  • July 17, 2019 – Las Cruces
  • July 18, 2019 – Roswell
  • July 19, 2019 – Santa Fe

An invite has been out to school personnel. If you or your staff wish to register, please contact Ms. Katherine Chavez, Operations/Benefits Manager at katherine.chavez@state.nm.us or at 1.800.548.3724, ext. 1011.

The training will focus on prevention! The medical, Rx, dental, vision, and wellness providers will be presenting valuable information on managing disease and medical conditions as well as focusing on prevention. Mr. Jose Maresma will conduct a mindfulness presentation, “Full Spectrum Resiliency – How to Go with the Flow.”

NMPSIA encourages members to use the video visits benefit under both BCBSNM and Presbyterian as an alternative to care rather than going to urgent care. The cost to the member is $0. Physicians can e-prescribe medications in order to treat members. This is a great benefit, especially for members living in rural communities with little or no after-hours care for non-emergent situations. If a member cannot be treated through a video visit, the member will be redirected to other health care options. In order to use this service, go to your medical plan’s website to complete the registration for this service. Once you are registered, you can quickly access this level of care, when needed. If you have any questions or require assistance, please contact the Benefits Department at NMPSIA at 1.800.548.3724. (BCBSNM is offering video visits for behavioral health at the same $0 copayment, and Presbyterian is working toward implementing this option sometime soon.)

NMPSIA’s data warehousing services provided by Segal has assisted in rate projections and plan design to determine where NMPSIA needs to focus on enhancing member education to better assist members in efforts to manage their overall health status. Diabetes, asthma, cancer, coronary artery disease, inflammatory conditions, and hemophilia continue to be some of cost drivers on both the medical plans and the prescription drug plan.

NMPSIA’s wellness programs offered through the medical plans are working to improve member engagement. NMPSIA is asking for your support in considering the implementation of a wellness at work program to assist in improving the overall health of the NMPSIA membership. NMPSIA is a self-insured plan, so a healthy population will translate to affordable premiums and good benefits. These programs may also contribute to less absenteeism and improve presentism, as well as encourage members to develop a relationship with a primary care physician in order to ensure they become aware if they may be at risk of developing a chronic medical condition. The programs can be designed to fit the needs of your district/school as one-size does not fit all. If you would like more information, please contact Ms. Katherine Chavez, Benefits and Wellness Operations Manager, at Katherine.Chavez@state.nm.us at 1.800.548.3724, ext. 1011. Please allow NMPSIA to help you come up with a strategic plan for your district/school. Remember, wellness is not just about nutrition and exercise, it is about our emotional, financial, occupational, environmental, spiritual, and social state of mind. Please visit nmpsia.com and review the presentations made during the July 2018 Regional Benefit Training sessions. The trainings were geared toward improving overall health.

The Express Scripts Annual Report for FY18 indicated the net per member per month plan cost for prescription drugs decreased by 12.6%, primarily driven by the cost share trend component. The specialty drug per member per month plan cost decreased by 11.1%, driven by specialty cost share and the new Saveon Program (patient financial copay assistance program). The top ten conditions being treated represent 67.6% of the total plan cost, which was $48.6 million in FY18.

Risk Division

The Risk Services Division of NMPSIA provides insurance for Property, Liability, School Board Legal Liability, Crime, Cyber Liability and Workers’ Compensation coverages. NMPSIA members consist of K-12, Charter Schools and Educational Entities (including several colleges and universities). Insurance is provided by a Memorandum of Coverage. NMPSIA maintains large self-insured retentions/deductibles, which means that NMPSIA pays losses on most cases that are filed on behalf of its members. NMPSIA purchases excess insurance from carriers that provide large limits of liability in case a claim exceeds retentions. NMPSIA contracts with various professionals that provide services for the following: brokerage, consulting, administration, actuarial, driver information retrieval, and claims management. These groups, along with staff, meet once a month reviewing coverages, claims, loss trends and loss prevention services to ensure NMPSIA provides the broadest coverage available and the best service possible.

Within the Risk Program, there are many areas of loss control issues that are addressed. NMPSIA’s efforts to focus on playgrounds, a leading cause of serious injury among children, has also led to an expansion of PSFA review. The hope is an increase in funding will ultimately reduce the risk and affect the stability of the pool.

NMPSIA, through its contract with Poms and Associates, has spent a vast amount of time focusing on school violence and sexual molestation trainings. NMPSIA’s main efforts are to provide consulting services that helps to ensure the safety of children and employees. NMPSIA and Poms and Associates drafted and distributed guidelines for arming school personnel for all members. These guidelines are be posted on nmpsia.com under the Risk tab.

In addition, House Bill 129 (“School Security Personnel and Deadly Weapons”) was passed by the Legislature. This bill defines “School Security Personnel” and the required training for individuals approved to carry a weapon on school grounds. This legislation goes into effective on July 1, 2020. NMPSIA will be working with the New Mexico Pubic Education Department on the Rules outlining requirements for schools.

Another area of focus in the Risk program has been the development of a Boundary Policy. It was discovered that school districts did not have an effective policy that spelled out all the do’s and don’ts and both legal and moral responsibilities of an educator, and their duty to report misbehavior. A policy was adopted by the NMPSIA board and distributed for districts to adopt. This policy is available for viewing on nmpsia.com under the Risk tab. NMPSIA will also be participating on a Task Force managed by the PED. This is a result of House Memorial 57 that calls to identify issues regarding ethical misconduct.

NMPSIA continues to fund and support CES with a TAP program that assists districts with special education issues, such as IDEA and IEP’s, and has been very successful. NMPSIA is always looking to improve education and programs to avoid employment practice claims and to ensure the due process rights of employees, along with ultimately providing a safe environment for our children to learn. All these initiatives involve great teamwork between staff and its consultants.

NMPSIA will be passing an average 2.45% risk premium increase for the upcoming FY20 for the Risk Program. The financial losses resulting from sexual molestation cases continue to rise. This may warrant larger risk premium increases for FY21.

The NMPSIA Board endorsed the Sandy Hook Promise Program, an anonymous reporting program and system. NMPSIA is hopeful this new Program will encourage individuals (including students) to report inappropriate behavior in order to prevent serious misconduct. Sandy Hook Promise is free of charge to all members and participation is strongly encouraged. Information can be found on nmpsia.com under the Risk tab. If you wish to discuss the Program in detail, please contact Ms. Julie Garcia with Poms and Associates at jgarcia@pomsassoc.com or at 505.797.1354. It is imperative that we all work together to try to change the culture in our schools to “say something!”

Further, contact Ms. Garcia for any risk-related training you wish to bring to your district/charter school. A summary of trainings can be found at nmpsia.com under the Risk tab. There is no cost for these trainings!

Financial Overview

NMPSIA’s FY2018 audit for the period ending June 30, 2018 was recently released by the Office of the State Auditor. The Authority received an unmodified (clean) opinion with no audit findings.

The Employee Benefits Fund had an audited ending net position of $17.3 million as of June 30, 2018. NMPSIA’s target fund balance is one month of claims, or approximately $24.1 million. The Risk Fund had an audited ending net position of $4.6 million as of June 30, 2018. NMPSIA’s target fund balance is $5.0 million.

NMPSIA does not receive a direct appropriation from the State General Fund. The Authority’s appropriation request sets the expenditure authority in which claims, and other expenses, can be paid by the Authority. The employer contribution for premiums paid to NMPSIA are funded through the “Insurance” line item in Public School Support. NMPSIA recommended that The Public Education Department request $12.9 million in additional funding for increases in the employer contribution for insurance through NMPSIA for FY20. Albuquerque Public Schools generally receive about 1/3 (one-third) of any appropriations through the mechanics of the funding formula.

2019 HS Scholarship Recipients

NMASBO is continuing to support graduates who are attending NM Universities and Colleges in the fall of 2019. Scholarships, for many students, are the only way they can go to college. NMASBO has made a long-term financial commitment to continue to offer multiple scholarships to graduating high school students and now college students throughout New Mexico.

This year, there were over 169 high school applications submitted and, of those, only 64 were complete and eligible for evaluation. The scholarships were divided by Region and the online Reviewer system was utilized for the first time for the high school scholarships, drastically streamlining the process and saving time for our volunteers.

Each student has a unique story and, no doubt, a need for this scholarship. It was a very hard to score each of them and I thank those who give so graciously of their time to fairly score these applications.

Congratulations to the 2019 recipients:

College scholarships will be released for application in the beginning of August to all major 4- year universities within New Mexico. We will again award multiple $500 awards to existing college students in good standing within their business colleges.

If you are interested in serving on the Scholarship Review Committee, please let me know at Kimberly. stone@capitantigers.org so I can get you added to our team! I want to thank all of our past volunteers as we couldn’t complete this job without the contribution of your time!

Jeannie Harris, Region 6

While we are thinking about wrapping up this school year, plans are already being made for the NMASBO Fall Conference scheduled for September 18-20, 2019. The conference will be held at the beautiful Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces in Las Cruces. As licensed School Business Officials, we must complete 16 contact hours per year of training or coursework in order to maintain our license. The Fall Conference will provide up to 12 of those needed hours. The Training Committee and the NMASBO staff have begun planning the schedule with potential topics and presenters.

The committee strives to provide relevant training in response to requests and suggestions that you provide via the post-conference surveys. Please remember that you do not have to wait for a survey to make suggestions. If you have an idea for a training topic, email them to Terry Dean, Jessica Montano, Jeannie Harris or your NMASBO district representative. You can also send suggestions by signing into your new member record and connecting on the General Membership Community Group. Maybe you or someone you know would provide a great presentation—contact us today!

Along with informative sessions, there will be numerous networking opportunities to socialize with your colleagues to discuss best practices and issues that affect us all. At the beginning of July, lookout for the online registration and hotel information but be sure to renew your 2019/2020 membership before you register for the conference.


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