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Monday News Roundup: Court Asked To Mull NM's Teacher Evaluation Plan

Court Asked To Mull NM's Teacher Evaluation Plan - Associated Press

Teachers unions and some state lawmakers who are opposed to the New Mexico Public Education Department's teacher evaluation system are asking the state Court of Appeals to reconsider its contention that the program is invalid because it violates state laws.

The reconsideration request comes after a state District Court judge last month refused to block Gov. Susana Martinez's administration from continuing to implement a new system for evaluating teachers.

The coalition opposing the evaluation program says the Public Education Department's program that it's attempting to block violates state laws that require school principals to conduct in-class teacher observations, contrary to the Public Education Department's plan, which allows other teachers to do observations.

The group also is challenging Public Education Department's exemption of charter schools from some evaluation rules.

Funding To Benefit Electric Systems In Rural NM - Associated Press

New Mexico, Arizona and Utah are among the 25 states that will benefit from federal funding being doled out to improve electricity infrastructure in rural areas.

The funding is being provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service Program. In all, the department says more than 6,500 miles of transmission line will be built or improved.

Among the projects being funded are those planned by the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, which serves rural electric consumers in New Mexico, Arizona and Utah.

The utility will receive nearly $168 million to build about 1,215 miles of line, invest in smart grid technologies and make other system improvements.

Federal officials say nearly 3,800 rural electric consumers in the three states will see direct benefits from the investment.

Deal Reached On Start Of Operation For NM Railhead - Associated Press and The Farmington Daily Times

The Navajo Nation and Burlington Northern Santa Fe have agreed to have the Thoreau Industrial Park Railhead operational by June 2015.

The Farmington Daily Times reports that the railhead could link a proposed freight railroad that would likely end in Farmington to the transcontinental rail that spans most of the country.

Four Corners Economic Development CEO Ray Hagerman says the railhead could also drive the construction of that freight line.

Peter Deswood, a senior economic specialist for the Navajo Nation, says the Thoreau railhead would split from the transcontinental rail in Thoreau and sit on about 300 acres of Navajo Nation-owned land less than a mile east of the intersection of New Mexico Highway 371 and Interstate 40.

Auditorium Unveiled At Federal Training Center - Associated Press and The Carlsbad Current-Argus

The federal government has unveiled a new $6 million auditorium in Artesia at its training center for the Border Patrol, Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Transportation Security Administration.

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports that the auditorium at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center holds up to 375 people and has a 12-foot-wide video wall and sound system.

The 14,200-square-foot building sits near the entrance of training center's compound that spans 220 acres.

The center serves as a law enforcement training location for dozens federal agencies or other organizations.