School staff prepare to welcome back students

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Melissa Ward works as bus driver, assistant manager and sometimes janitor at Adair Transportation Inc., which runs bus routes for the Clovis Municipal Schools system.

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

Getting 43 buses and their drivers ready to drive 34 routes carrying 2,200 children to school daily can only be defined as crazy, according to Melissa Ward, driver and assistant manager of Adair Transportation Inc.

Adair runs buses for the Clovis Municipal Schools system. School starts today and the buses have to be ready.

Ward, a mother of four, said the fleet of buses was washed and serviced to get them ready for the new school year.

“The kids have new shoes, we have sparkly clean buses,” Ward said.

Ward began working for Adair seven years ago.

“My children were a little older and it was time to do something a little different,” she said.

Ward said the biggest draw of her job is that she’s off work when her children are out of school. But Ward said she enjoys working with the children on her route.

“You get attached to those little guys,” Ward said. You see them at Wal-Mart and they give you that little wave. For the new year, it’s fun to see how they’ve changed over the summer, how they’ve grown up a little bit.”

Ward said drivers usually stick with a route for a years because they know the route and their kids.

While bus routes and drivers aren’t going to change much this year, Deputy Superintendent of Curriculum Cindy Martin said a new reading initiative is being implemented in five elementary schools.

This year Mesa, Zia, Lockwood, Ranchvale and Parkview elementary schools are taking on the program that began in Barry last year. Martin said the program is an integrated approach to language arts, joining spelling, vocabulary, reading, writing, science and social sciences together in one lesson block.

“We know that kids learn better when content is integrated. Teachers try very hard to integrate their material. This program lends itself to that. The materials and books are already integrated for them,” Martin said.

Martin said Barry saw a 7 percent increase in reading scores after using the program last year.

CMS is also working towards address mapping the district this year. The Public School Facilities Authority is requiring geocoding of the district before it will provide 80 percent of funding for construction.

Deputy Superintendent of Operations Joel Shirley said parents have been bringing in paperwork to confirm their student’s addresses during registration.

“It’s going quite well,” Shirley said. “What we have didn’t tell us anything we didn’t know. We’re hoping this information will establish a baseline for more Cannon personnel moving into the area.”

Shirley said that PSFA administrators visited Clovis Wednesday to take a tour of the city and Cannon Air Force Base.

“We’re very very positive about how today’s meeting went,” he said. “The state accepts this as a verification of enrollment which leads to funding.”

Shirley said the process of address mapping is a tedious one but the district should have numbers to the state in 10 days or less.