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Nov. 22 First News: SFPS Superintendent Boyd Stresses Needs in 'State of the Schools' Speech-Listen

  Santa Fe Schools Superintendent Joel Boyd, in his State of the Schools speech at the Capitol Rotunda Thursday – surprised his staff by ditching his prepared remarks and spoke on a variety of topics, praising district staff, the city and many others along the way. The second-year superintendent stressed urgency for improvement. *****Nov. 22 Boyd-Urgency :20***** Boyd also discussed reform at the secondary school level and stressed the need for the district to engage families in the education effort.

Superintendent Joel Boyd also announced during his state of the schools address that the Santa Fe School District is among 31 applicants nationwide that have been selected by the federal Department of Education as finalists for its “Race to the Top” funding.  The U-S Education Department says the program will provide about 120 million-dollars to between five and 10 winning applicants. The funding is to be used to close educational gaps and prep students for post-high school success. We’ll know by the end of the year whether Santa Fe is chosen.

The U-S Senate’s Thursday vote to change its rules and end filibusters for all presidential executive and judicial nominations, except to the U.S. Supreme Court is seen as a victory for New Mexico Senator Tom Udall. The Democrat has pushed to reform Senate rules since he took office in 2009, and spoke on the Senate Floor prior to the 52-48 vote in favor of the change. *****Nov. 22 Udall-1  :12***** Udall contends that “doing nothing was no longer an option” in light of this week’s Republican filibuster of another judicial appointee from President Obama.

(Meantime) Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich have announced President Obama's selection of Damon Martinez as the next U-S attorney for the district of New Mexico. The two recommended Martinez for the post in April. Martinez has served as an assistant U-S attorney for a dozen years and currently supervises the organized crime and gang section in Albuquerque. The Senate will have the final say on Martinez's confirmation.

A New Mexico District Judge has ruled that the state can keep secret the audit that led it to move behavioral health providers from numerous New Mexico providers to firms from Arizona. State District Judge Douglas Driggers rejected a request by journalists to order the Human Services Department to unveil the audit under state open records laws. The HSD claims the audit found overbilling and other issues, so it brought in the Arizona contractors to take over the services. The Attorney General's office has also declined to release most of the audit because it contends the materials are law enforcement records protected from disclosure under state law.

Santa Fe police call him a “problem burglar”—and today, he’s in jail. According to SFPD, 26-year old Kenneth Martinez was arrested on a warrant issued after he fled his crashed car on Cerrillos Road last week. The abandoned car contained a “significant amount” of stolen jewelry, including a necklace valued at 100-thousand dollars. Police say they found Martinez Wednesday at 2ndandCerrillos…. and say he’s tied to at least three residential burglaries, and believe he’s responsible for several more.

Santa Fe National Forest plans a prescribed burn soon to reduce hazardous fuels in the city’s watershed. Forest Service officials plan the work on December second. Depending on weather- conditions, crews will slowly burn slash piles over 115 acres through the end of January. Officials stress that fire managers will be considering many factors before ignition, including moisture levels, the availability of firefighting resources and weather forecasts. We can expect to see smoke in Santa Fe, Tesuque and Pecos Canyon areas.

Governor Susana Martinez wants to increase –in a big way—state funding for a university research institute that focuses on New Mexico's water problems. The governor announced Thursday she'll ask the Legislature next year for an additional two-million dollars for the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute at New Mexico State University.  The institute’s annual budget totals nearly one-point-three million dollars. The Legislature and governor agreed to provide the research center with just more than 200-thousand this year.

Santa Fe Weather: Cloudy with a 40-percent chance of snow today and tonight—expect a high of 33 today and a low of 23-degreees. Saturday, snow is likely and the chance of precipitation grows to 60-percent, with a high of 34.