The official groundbreaking for a new baseball complex on Albuquerque's West Side was held last week. The complex, which will include 5 baseball fields in the first phase and 12 softball and little league fields in the second, will cover 82 acres and cost an estimated $17.8 million. The complex will be located on Arroyo Vista next to the Albuquerque Public Schools' football stadium. Mayor Richard Berry said the complex played a large part in the selection of Albuquerque as host of the 2019 National Senior Games. According to Councilor Dan Lewis, nearly $13 million of the project’s funding will come from revenue bonds, originally meant for a Tesla battery manufacturing plant that was never built.
PED Proposes Changes to Teacher Evaluations, Student Testing Time
Last week, the New Mexico Public Education Department announced that it wants to reduce the amount of testing done by students and is supporting legislation to change the way it evaluates teachers. In the current teacher evaluation, student test scores make up 50 percent of the overall score. Education Secretary Hanna Skandera recommended dropping that value to 40 percent to lawmakers Monday. She also said PED wants to increase the number of exemptions in the attendance portion of the evaluation from three to five and offer “targeted investments” for teachers, including debit cards for classroom supplies and stipends for mentorship programs. PED is also looking to decrease the hours spent by students taking the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test, or PARCC, by 2018. The size of the decrease has yet to be determined. Skandera said the decision to make the changes came after feedback was gathered during statewide community meetings as part of the “New Mexico Rising” tour. Albuquerque Teachers Federation President Ellen Bernstein says the changes are not enough, and that student performance should not be considered at all in teacher evaluations. The proposed changes will eventually become part of the state's plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act.
Facebook Data Center to be Fully Solar
In September of last year, Facebook announced plans to build a data center in Los Lunas. Last week, Gov. Susana Martinez announced that two Albuquerque-based solar companies, Affordable Solar and Array Technologies, will be building a solar plant as part of a $37 million contract between Facebook and Public Service Co. of New Mexcio PNM Resources will be investing a total of $45 million in three power plants as part of a contract that will also require Facebook to power their data center completely on solar energy. A report obtained by the Albuquerque Journal last month projected that the center will have a nearly $2 billion economic impact over ten years.