NMASBO 2nd Quarterly Newsletter October - December 2019

| VOLUME 14 | ISSUE 2 |

George K. Baum & Company was recently acquired by Stifel and they will remain an NMASBO Presenting Partner

President's Message

Claire Cieremans, President

Greetings from Los Lunas. I am hopeful that you all have submitted your Audit to the State Auditor and you can enjoy the upcoming Holidays. We only have a few weeks before we get super busy with Year End reports, the start of Budget Preparations, and the upcoming 30-day Legislative Session. Before the New Year comes and we hit the ground running, I want to take the time to reflect on a few important facts that we heard from the New Mexico Educational Retirement Board (ERB) Executive Director, Jan Goodwin. Ms. Goodwin presented to NMASBO attendees at our fall conference in Las Cruces earlier this year. I heard her message loud and clear-our unfunded liability for our educational retirement fund negatively affects all stakeholders who participate in our required Education Retirement Fund.

Legislation from HB 360 had several components that have affected our district finances by resulting in additional employer contributions for PERA retirees who work for ERB employers and substitute teachers who work more than .25 FTE after July 1, 2020. These changes will also affect our employees and our subs in paying contributions as well. My initial reaction was concern about my district paying out more in employer contributions and my district potentially losing subs because of the upcoming changes but, as I listened to Jan: it made more sense that changes were necessary as ERB was formulating a plan to become solvent and make sure we all have adequate retirement benefits down the road. This is no different than the day to day tough decisions we make for our districts in order to maintain healthy financials for future stability.

The underfunding of NMERB hurts everyone. How? NMERB took the time to develop a presentation with visuals that can better explain the impact. Whether you’re a retiree or current employee your benefits are affected by our unfunded retirement plan. Our districts Financial Statements are negatively affected by the liability. It also has a negative impact on the state’s credit rating. In turn, could result in higher interest rates for us. If you did not hear Jan’s message in the fall, NMASBO will put her presentation on our website to view. During Jan’s presentation the most shocking information I heard was the plan to get to solvency will take 46 years. In 46 years, the interest paid to reach solvency will cost us $29.1 billion dollars. That’s a serious amount of money. There are some options to help reduce the time it takes to reach solvency, but that would require additional state revenue allocated to our plan, however the results could cut interest costs in half and the money saved will benefit our members.

My reason for addressing this issue is to bring awareness to the bigger picture when it comes to our ERB fund and help get the facts out in the open. If you have further questions please contact ERB by phone at (505) 888-1560 or visit their website www.nmerb.org or by email ERB-MemberHelp@state.nm.us

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving and a very Merry Christmas!

From the Executive Director's Desk

Terry Dean, Executive Director

Mission vs. Role and Superhero vs. Mere Mortal

In our schools, we need a lot of people in different roles to get the job done. Let’s make a list: teachers, principals, secretaries, educational assistants, counselors, librarians, coaches, maintenance, custodians, food service, IT, bus drivers, superintendents, and lastly, our loveable little School Business Officers. Each of these individuals has a different role but are all on the same mission and that is to educate students.

What is your role as a School Business Officer? Your role is to “make it happen.” You keep your district/school in compliance with the rules and regulations and off the front page of the newspaper. When you receive the legislative directives for budget, you translate the school’s educational direction and initiatives into numerical values and, hopefully, an understandable budget. Have you ever considered how important your role is within your school? Have you ever considered how everyone in your district/charter is completely dependent upon you to “make it happen?” You are kind of like a superhero.

How do your actions compare to superhero work?

  • Saving “damsels in distress” – processing payroll and no staff left behind.
  • Saving people from a burning building – getting school supplies to the teachers.
  • Leaping tall buildings in a single bound – reconciling the bank accounts.

However, there is one thing missing before the coronation of true superhero status is bestowed upon you as the School Business Officer. To become a true superhero, you must become an educator instead of an accountant or businessperson. How do you make this transition or “career” change? This change occurs when you focus on the mission. Yes, your role is still the numbers and budget and everything else that comes with getting the job done but your primary focus is always, always, always the mission.

I guess the bottom line is leadership. As a leader, we always focus on the people, but we also focus on the mission. Leadership is hard work! It is much easier to be relegated to the back office and be the accountant than it is to be a leader. Leadership is conveyed in small steps and is accumulated over time. So, what steps are you taking to become a leader in your school?

Without debate, the superintendent is the leader for your school. However, there were times in my career that I had to privately and “gently” remind my superintendent that our attention had drifted, and we needed to refocus on the mission. Why was I able to address this issue with the boss when others were not? First, it was because my superintendent was willing to listen; but secondly, it was because my superintendent knew my heart was focused on our students even though my role was not necessarily the “instructional program.” And yes, it is difficult to approach the boss with such a hard message.

What is your personal leadership philosophy? The NMASBO 2020 Winter Conference is scheduled for February 19 – 21, 2020, at the Embassy Suites in Albuquerque. During the conference, we will have an emphasis on leadership. Our keynote speaker is Colonel Arthur Athens, a retired U.S. Marine. He is one of the most amazing keynote speakers I have ever had the privilege to hear. We will also have a session about developing your leadership philosophy. I encourage you to attend the conference, develop your leadership philosophy and take steps to becoming the superhero leader your school needs.

2020 Winter Conference Updates

Jeannie Harris, Region 6

Online registration for the 2020 Winter Conference, to be held at Embassy Suites in Albuquerque, will begin on Tuesday, January 7, 2020. If you need to reserve a hotel room for this event, a reservation link will provided after your online registration is submitted.

We are very excited about Wednesday afternoon's general session speaker, Colonel Arthur Athens. Check out his LinkedIn profile for more information. We are also in the planning stages of laying out the agenda. Below are some tentative topics we are trying to solidify for the conference.

  • Colonel Arthur Athens - keynote and a breakout session
  • Cybersecurity & Ransomeware (3-4 sessions)
  • Preparing for the 2020 Census
  • Legislative Update
  • Leadership Philosophy - Terry Dean & Claire Cieremans
  • Ethics & Governmental Accounting - JAG
  • Tax Rates Spiking - RBCCM
  • Making Your Budgets Understandable - John Hutchison
  • Time Management & Organizational Processes - John Hutchison
  • Employee On-Boarding & Separation of Service - Debbie Hernandez & Jodie Maestas
  • SBO Round Tables & Best Practices
  • Stump the Business Manager
  • NMASBO Communities Support
  • APTA Users Group - Harris School Solutions
  • Visions Users Group - Tyler Technology

This year, we tried something new at the Fall Conference – one hour sessions. This Winter Conference, you will notice a new format to the schedule as we are experimenting with offering more time to be with the exhibitors by providing longer lunch periods each day. The Training Committee and the NMASBO staff will continue to work diligently to schedule relevant topics and knowledgeable presenters.

As licensed School Business Officials, 16 contact hours per year of training or coursework must be completed in order to maintain PED School Business Official licensure. For the Winter Conference, we are aiming to provide at least 14 of those needed hours, so make plans to attend.

NMASBO’s mission is to lead the New Mexico school business profession by providing quality professional development opportunities and a network of support. Likewise, our organization is also all about sharing and networking with our colleagues to learn from and teach each other. This conference will also allow time to network with our peers in a social atmosphere and will enable us to strengthen relationships with our vendors. We are looking forward to seeing you in Albuquerque on February 19-21, 2020.

NMASBO Board of Director Regional Elections

Kimberly Stone, President-Elect

The single biggest way to impact an organization is to focus on leadership development. There is almost no limit to the potential of an organization that recruits good people, raises them up as leaders and continually develops them.” - John Maxwell

Do you think you are ready to help motivate other business officials across the state? Then, I want to encourage you to weigh your options and consider running for the NMASBO Board in our next election.

Regions 2, 3, 4 and Charter rep all have seats up for election to the NMASBO Board. I have included below a list of schools that fall into each district.

As NMASBO continues to strive to meet the needs of our members this year, we will be implementing digital voting. Anytime you roll out a new program, there can be unforeseen obstacles but, as we work through those opportunities, we plan for the process to go as follows:

  • 1/7/20 – Official call for nominations
  • 2/7/20 – Information for all candidates due
  • 2/12/20 – Candidate information sent to membership
  • 2/19-2/21/20 – Winter Conference: Candidates are introduced to membership
  • 2/21/20 – Electronic polls open
  • 2/28/20 – Polls close
  • 3/3/20 – Inform candidates of results and wait for acceptance of office
  • 3/4/20 – Membership notified of election results
  • 7/1/20 – Winners take office

Again, I encourage you all to consider to be ready to submit your name on 1/7/20 when we have the official call for nominations. If you have any questions, please reach out to me directly at kimberly.stone@capitantigers.org.

| Facebook: @sonmpr | Twitter:@SONewMexico |

The NMASBO Board of Directors and staff has chosen Special Olympics New Mexico as our 5th Community Social Responsibility Campaign recipient. We encourage all of you to donate to this amazing organization at the 2020 Winter Conference.

During the 2019 Fall Conference, the membership donated $$$ and we are excited to raise more money and awareness about this organization.

The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

Congratulations 2019 Boot Camp Attendees

NMASBO held another successful Boot Camp October 14-18, with 21 attendees. Congratulations to the class of 2019 Boot Camp Survivors.

Stan’s Straight Talk November 2019

Stan Rounds, Executive Director, NMCEL

November is a time of thanksgiving and a time when districts are looking forward to the holidays. It is a time, now, when districts are anticipating the outcomes of their Board elections and the outcomes of voter support for bonds and mil levies. This newest “fall tradition” is a new experience for us and adds even more anticipation into our holidays. As I have talked to many district administrators this fall, there seems to be questions about several realities.

NMSU SOAR just released the 2019 New Mexico Educator Vacancy Report (see it on our website). This work has been our “weather-vane” for staffing trends and the trends for teacher educator enrollment and completion. This year’s results show a 13% decrease in total vacancies over last year. This year, total vacancies totaled 1,054. Of these, there were still 644 teacher vacancies statewide. By region, the teacher vacancies were as follows: Central Region – 309; Northeast Region – 27; Northwest Region – 96; Southeast – 147; Southwest – 65.

When we review the “heatmap” of identified openings we find that the most openings, are for Elementary Teachers (173), Special Education Teachers (151), High School Teachers (122), and Middle School Teachers (112). When we view the need by subject area, the results are not dissimilar from last year with the following openings specific to subject: Math (62); ELA (46); Science (46); Music (34); Social Studies (25); General Education (17); Health/PE (17); Visual and Performing Arts (13); Technology/Media (12); Multiple Subjects (10); Spanish (6); FACS (6).

As we look forward to teacher availability, I am concerned with the continuing downtrend of both enrollment admissions and completions from our colleges of education in total (including Alternative and Traditional). Admits have decreased 4% over last year (-47) and, significantly, completers have decreased 12% (-97) from last year. Over the last 10 years, the number of completers has decreased 43%. This trend is likely to continue and signals an ongoing crisis for New Mexico Public Schools. We urge you to become active in assisting us to find solutions. Our children deserve nothing less.

Additionally, we continue to see high turnover of our superintendents throughout New Mexico. So far, in this last turnover cycle, we have seen the turnover of 32/89 superintendents. That is a turnover rate of 35.9%. This trend, if unchecked, is sure to cause a significant impediment to maintain consistency of planning, growth, and stability for New Mexico schools. The NMSSA continues to work to support new superintendents through an intentionally designed mentoring process. This process brings seasoned, veteran superintendents as mentors. We seek to build the professional relationships and networks of support to assure that the superintendents in New Mexico are successful.

Recruitment and retention of our teacher corps and our administrative corps must continue to be a top priority for us. We need to assure that we rebuild the foundation of quality instructional and leadership personnel. When placed in terms that the Courts have ordered in Yazzie/Martinez, the constitutional imperative is clear.


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 next Board meeting is scheduled for 9:00 A.M., Thursday, December 5, 2019. The meeting will be held at Cooperative Educational Services, 4216 Balloon Park Rd NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87109. The agenda will be made available on www.nmpsia.com.


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 Chief Financial Officer 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.

NMPSIA will soon be seeking to fill positions for a Chief Procurement Officer and a Financial Specialist. You may contact Mr. Patrick Sandoval, Chief Financial Officer, NMPSIA, for any inquiries at patrick.sandoval@state.nm.us, or call 1.800.548.3724.

Benefits Division

Pursuant to authorization of the NMPSIA Board and the Health Care Purchasing Act, NMPSIA is in the process of procuring group medical, dental, and vision benefits coverage. The due date for proposal submissions by offerors for the procurement is December 10, 2019. The intent is to have new contracts in effect July 1, 2020. Any premium changes will be deferred to October 1, 2020. A full and complete copy of the Request for Proposal may be obtained from the Albuquerque Public Schools website: https://www.aps.edu/procurement/current-bids-and-rfps.

The FY20 Board-approved medical and dental premium increases for FY20 went into effect on October 1, 2019. The blended medical premium increase is 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 is 5%. The dental plan premium had not been increased for several years and claims have been outpacing revenue. There were no medical plan changes. The following benefit enhancements will be going into effect:

  • Voluntary Smart 90 Program – This program is providing a voluntary option to members to fill 90-day supplies of maintenance medications from chosen retail network (chain pharmacies or certain statewide independent pharmacies). The program reduces waste from non-adherence, increases plan savings and improves care and convenience for members. Effective January 1, 2020. A list of participating pharmacies will be posted on www.nmpsia.com by January 1, 2020. The Voluntary Smart 90 Program is an option to fill 90-days through certain retail pharmacies. The Express Scripts mail order pharmacy will continue to provide 90-day through mail.
  • Physical Rehab Cost Sharing – The medical plan member cost share is being reduced to PCP level copay. Effective January 1, 2020 as required by House Bill 81.
  • Alternative Benefits – The Copay for Alternative Medicine services (predominantly chiropractic services) are being reduced to the PCP level (deductible waived). Effective January 1, 2020.

• Autism Benefit – The specialty copay is being reduced to the PCP level and age restrictions are being removed. Effective July 1, 2019 as required by House Bill 322.

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 www.nmpsia.com and review the presentations made during the July 2018 Regional Benefit Training sessions. The trainings were geared toward improving overall health.

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 to be posted on www.nmpsia.com under the Risk section.

NMPSIA is actively working with the Public Education Department and the School Ethical Conduct Task Force on House Memorial 57 to identify issues of concern regarding ethical misconduct and to develop a strategic plan to alleviate those concerns.

NMPSIA continues to collaborate with the Public Education Department and the Department of Public Safety on House Bill 129, School Security Personnel and Deadly Weapons, which 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 Public Education Department on the Rules outlining requirements for schools and to develop school security personnel and firearms training programs. The training programs will include working with students with special needs, cultural competency and prohibited profiling practices.

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 www.nmpsia.com under the Risk section.

NMPSIA continues to fund and support CES with a Technical Assistance 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 passed on an average 2.45% risk premium increase for the current fiscal year 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 www.nmpsia.com under the Risk section. If you wish to discuss the program in detail, please contact Ms. Julie Garcia with Poms and Associates at jgarcia@pomsassoc.com.org 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 www.nmpsia.com under the Risk section. There is no cost for these trainings!

Financial Overview

NMPSIA’s FY2019 audit for the period ending June 30, 2019 was completed and submitted to the Office of the State Auditor. The audit is pending release by the Office of the State Auditor. Once released, the audit will be made available on www.nmpsia.com.

NMPSIA staff testified in front of the Legislative Finance Committee on October 31, 2019. The Authority’s FY21 appropriation request was presented to the Committee. There was no decision made at that time.

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. For FY21, NMPSIA recommended that the Public Education Department request $17.4 million ($10.7 Million for Employee Benefits and $6.7 Million for Risk) in additional funding for increases in the employer contribution for insurance through NMPSIA. Albuquerque Public Schools generally receives about 1/3 (one-third) of any appropriations through the mechanics of the funding formula.

SFO© Certification & Study Group Testimonials

After watching the group of School Business Officials be presented with SFO certificates during last year’s NMASBO Winter Conference, I saw how impressive the group was, and determined that the SFO was now a goal of mine. I did some research on the Administrator of School Finance and Operations (SFO) certification through ASBO International’s website and immediately sought out Terry and Jessica to express my interest. Luckily for me, NMASBO put together a study group for the SFO made up of the close group of NMASBO members who also wanted the certification, and led by one of NM’s very own SFO certified SBO’s, Leslie Pearce. Our group met throughout the Fall Conference, where we reviewed sample questions, highlights from some of the available ASBO International SFO web videos, but more simply held discussions about our organizations and our experiences. On test day, I quickly discovered that any of the worry or doubt I had was wasted energy. All of the time with the study group and our dedication to high quality school business management in New Mexico had me prepared, and I was able to relate an experience from the study group to the correct answer for the majority of the questions. The SFO study group and Leslie prepared me for the exam, and the experience would have been much more daunting and stressful had I not participated in the study group. I encourage all of the SBO’s in New Mexico to take the exam and help continue to reinforce the exemplary quality of our School Business Officials in the state." - Sean Fry, SBO (Albuquerque Charter Academy)
I worried for nothing. The test is made up of information that is dealt with on a daily basis. The study group was relaxed with good conversation. If in contemplation, there is no reason to put it off." - Tanya Hutchins, SFO (Lovington Municipal Schools)


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Jessica Montano


Created with images by Ricardo Gomez Angel - "Autumn reflections 23" • King Lip - "After fighting crime for decades together, Batman finally musters up the courage to ask Wonder Woman for her hand in marriage. Superman is not happy with the arrangement as he always had a thing for Wonder Woman, but the Man of Steel never had the courage to ask her out."