Most schools improve, maintain their A-to-F grades
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - State officials say the overwhelming majority of New Mexico's public schools improved or maintained their performance grade this year, and nearly two-fifths of schools received an A or B.
There were 332 schools with grades of A or B. That's exceeded the 323 receiving a D or F.
The number of schools receiving a D or F increased by nearly 7 percent from last year while those getting A or B grew by about 8 percent. Schools getting a C dropped by 18 percent.
The Public Education Department said Thursday that 71 percent of schools improved or maintained their letter grades from last year.
The grades are based heavily on results of standards-based tests taken last spring by students and reflect other factors such as a survey of students.
New Mexico legislator denies conflict of interest
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - A New Mexico legislator denies having a conflict of interest in voting for the state to sell a Santa Fe building and later getting a contract to broker its sale.
Democratic Sen. Phil Griego of San Jose tells the Santa Fe New Mexican that he didn't get the contract until a month after the legislative session ended.
Other legislators say state officials told them the sale was necessary because the building cost more to maintain than it made for the state. The building formerly housed the New Mexico Conservation Corps.
The Inn of Five Graces had a lease with a right of first purchase and bought the property for $570,000, $70,000 above the appraised value.
The Santa Fe Reporter first reported Griego's role in the sale of the building.
ESPANOLA POLICE SHOOTING
Report to outline concerns from Espanola shooting
ESPANOLA, N.M. (AP) - The Rio Arriba Community Health Council is set to release a report citing inadequate behavioral health and gun policies it says led to Espanola police killing a teenager armed with a cap gun.
The council is expected to unveil the report Thursday at a Legislative Behavioral Health Subcommittee at Northern New Mexico College in Espanola.
Authorities say 16-year-old Victor Villalpando was shot by two Espanola officers June 8 after he called 911 using a different name. Police say he reported that the suspicious person was armed with a gun and hitting himself.
The report outlines what it calls flawed policies that made this shooting possible, along with recommendations designed to prevent future tragedies.
Rio Arriba County Health and Human Services Director Lauren Reichelt is slated to present the report.
New Mexico tribe proposes ending gambling payments
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Pojoaque Pueblo has proposed a gambling compact to the federal government that would allow the tribe to stop revenue sharing payments to the state.
The Interior Department has asked Gov. Susana Martinez and Attorney General Gary King to comment on Pojoaque's proposals for casino gambling on tribal lands north of Santa Fe.
The pueblo's compact with the state expires in mid-2015. The tribe is seeking a new compact through a procedure that would allow the Interior secretary to decide terms of a gambling agreement.
Currently, New Mexico tribes pay the state a share of slot-machine proceeds.
Pojoaque also proposes serving alcohol in casino gambling areas, which is currently prohibited.
Martinez spokesman Enrique Knell said the proposed compact would give Pojoaque a competitive advantage over its neighboring tribes.
RIO GRANDE WATER FIGHT
Colorado urged to fight Rio Grande water change
PUEBLO, Colo. (AP) - A southern Colorado water district says the state should fight a conservation group's push to force Colorado to change the way it sends water to New Mexico in the Rio Grande.
Rio Grande Water Conservation District attorney David Robbins says Colorado is fulfilling its obligations under the 1939 Rio Grande Compact that governs the river's use.
The Pueblo Chieftain reported Thursday that WildEarth Guardians wants Colorado to change the timing of its water diversions from the river.
The group says Colorado doesn't allow enough water to flow into New Mexico during the breeding season of the Rio Grande silvery minnow.
The group notified Colorado officials in January in intended to sue, and last week it asked the U.S. Interior Department to take a bigger role in managing the river.
Navajo judge orders joint trial in slush fund case
FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) - A Navajo Nation judge has ruled that tribal council Speaker Johnny Naize and four current or former council delegates will stand trial together on bribery charges stemming from alleged improper use of a discretionary fund.
The Daily Times reports that District Judge Carol Perry's ruling Tuesday grants a motion by the special prosecutor in the cases of Naize, Delegate David L. Tom and former delegates George Arthur, Leonard Teller and Ernest D. Yazzie Jr.
Each defendant is accused of providing money to family members from the council's discretionary fund and of developing a back-and-forth system to receive funding.
The discretionary fund was intended to allow delegates to help tribal members facing emergencies or financial hardship.
Perry says the court lacks funding to conduct separate trials for the defendants.
NMSU creates company to manage, develop assets
LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico State University is creating a tax-exempt nonprofit corporation to manage and develop the Las Cruces-based university's land, property and water assets.
According to the university, all of the Aggie Development Corp.'s net revenue will be contributed to the university, and NMSU President Garrey Carruthers says creating the corporation will make it easier for NMSU to produce revenue from its assets..
The corporation's seven-member board of directors will include regents, university administrators and two people from outside the university.
The NMSU Board of Regents authorized creation of the corporation on Wednesday.
The effort to establish the corporation will be led by Ben Woods, NMSU's special adviser to the president.
MEXICAN WOLVES RELEASED
6 Mexican wolves released in Gila
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it has released six more Mexican wolves into the Gila Wilderness as part of its 15-year-effort to reintroduce the endangered predator to the Southwest.
Officials say the wolves were driven from the service's wolf sanctuary in Sevilleta to the Gila Cliff Dwellings on Monday night, then packed into the wilderness for release on Tuesday.
The female wolf is one who was recaptured in May after becoming separated from her mate and having six pups with no experience in the wild. Two of the pups were put with another pair of wolves that had a smaller litter and more rearing experience. At the sanctuary, the mother and her four remaining pups were reintroduced to a former mate, who officials say adopted the pups as his own.
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