A Charter School for Alamogordo, Where is the Promised Transparency?


On December 7th, 2023, Main Gate United and the Alamogordo Chamber of Commerce held a "community program" that was marketed as an information session for the Charter School Initiative -a community program to provide more education options.  

The event attracted several legislative charter supporters, including Sen. Ron Griggs, Rep. Jim Townsend, and Rep. Harlan Vincent, as well as other political leaders of the community. The event was touted in an alternative blog with close ties to those recently elected to the school board and to the charter board itself as the "big reveal."

Prior to that an opinion piece by the same biased and non-transparent alternative blog posted a teaser about the potential of an International Baccalaureate program coming to Alamogordo potentially via a charter school concept that would be looked upon highly favorably by leadership at Holloman. 

Scare tactics have been used in an attempt to sway public opinion that the prior APS School leadership and school board had made Holloman leadership highly frustrated with the Alamogordo Public Schools system and its former leadership. 

However, AlamogordoTownNews.com has combed over 100s of documents attained via records requests from the Alamogordo Public Schools, Otero County and via the State Department of Education, as well as documents procured via public requests to the military. 

Our findings show a good working relationship that continues to evolve and progress. While with any organization, there is important debate and dialog, a majority of documents support that the APS school system, for the last decade to present, and Holloman have an excellent and cordial working relationship together.

As an affirmation of accomplishments we recently came across via our documents requested a letter from the recently promoted 49th Wing School Liason, at Holloman to the APS. She touted the accomplishments between the DOD, Holloman and the Alamogordo Public Schools. 

The military leader stated in a document dated October 5th 2023 to Judy Rabon and Pamela Renteria, "education is often said to be the key to unlocking a brighter future, and through the partnership between Holloman AFB and APS, we have not only embraced this truth, but we have also seen it come to life. In the last 1o years we have won 6 National Education Partnership Awards, assisted in the procurement of almost $7 Million in DoDEA grants, educated teachers, and staff on supporting military families, established peer-to-peer transition programs in the most heavily military impacted area schools--funded 100% by the Air Force saving APS almost $200K and paved the way for the first installation in New Mexico with a project SEARCH partnership, benchmarked the Purple Starts Public Schools Program for NM, closed the gap between on base agencies and APS, ensuring we were ready to act if a crises were to occur, established a DoD STARBASE, advocated at all levels to open and build a new $24 Million Holloman Elementary School, secured a $56.9 Million OLDCC grant for Holloman Elementary and Middle Schools and so much more..."

IPRA request documents APS (AlamogordoTownNew.com 2nd Life Media)

She continued"this partnership has been a shining example of what can be achieved when individuals and organizations come together with a shared vision for the betterment of the community. Through collaborative efforts, we have witnessed positive changes and the impact has reverberated far and wide, touching the lives of many...As I reflect on the past and our journey thus far, I am excited for the future. This partnership is not just a chapter, it is an ongoing story, of growth, collaboration, and a shared vision for a stronger community..."

The individual writing the letter has been promoted to a role overseeing 20 installations spread across 10 states to include New Mexico. Given her statement and her promotion it does not support the narrative of a deeply troubled relationship between APS and Holloman.

The narrative, recently spun to the voting public, of a troubled relationship between Holloman and APS leadership in order to replace the school board and Superintendent Pam Renteria, with a concurrent effort, to champion the creation of an alternative charter school system, is different than what documents between Holloman and APS show as TRUTH.

These same proponents, who have vocally condemned New Mexico PED involvement locally as overreach of state mandates into the local system, as overreach by the state, now champion the idea of New Mexico PED state oversight of their proposed charter STEM program. 

They comment often that they would be under the oversight of the NMPED, now, as if that is a good thing - state control.

The difference of course, is the charter program would NOT be part of the local APS system, nor have oversight by, locally elected individuals, for local public accountability but a council that reports to the NMPED Charter Division. 

Per a submission on the Sentinel, "A charter school in Alamogordo is a public school, with administrative and curriculum oversight by NMPED, overseen by a governing council, NOT THE DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD, directed by the school leader NOT THE APS SUPERINTENDENT, who also runs the day-to-day operations. Persons with issues need only bring them up with the school leader or elevate concerns to the governing council."

Who is that governing council? Who selects that council? How is it assured that there will be transparency to the public, local taxpayers?

Thus far transparency began with a bang from the event hosted by the Alamogordo Chamber of Commerce and MainGate United - good job at informing the public but since, silence.

However, after that initial announcement work has progressed, and yet the public has not been informed of that work. 

Who is behind the work and the steps or development efforts to make a charter school potentially happen? 

The traditional newspaper the Alamogordo Daily News has done NO reporting, there have been no press releases by the founding group to our media outlet nor our radio station concerning their efforts. On 1-25-24, our various platforms reported that a pre-application had been filed with the New Mexico Public Education Department. 

The filings were located via an IPRA request or as some people refer to - freedom of information request - via the NMPED and reported in a story via the link below...


The pre-application board consists of a highly respected, Dentist, James Klump in partnership with the former chairwoman of Flickinger Center, Cindy Stong, who's husband Fred has been uniquely hostile to the APS leadership in commentaries and public comments on social media

Other pre-application members listed on the founding pre-application included Flickinger Center employee, Lorrie Black, Michelle Perry and Jerret Perry, County Commissioner and sister to Lorrie Black, Vickie Marquardt and APS School Board Member Craig Danekas. A close knit interrelated group. 

The details of the application can be read at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1-YTeg7cptyjpAcqWMCgi4sitqwrpIt1_/view?…

Section 8 of the application states: "a majority of the elected APS school board members have expressed support for a Charter School. In addition, local news coverage has also received positive feedback when highlighting our efforts. A concerted effort will be made to gain as much community input as possible, such as a survey, news releases, public forums, and presentations."

charter school pre-application NMPED (AlamogordoTownNews.com KALHradio.org 2nd Life Media)

AlamogordoTownNews.com and KALHRadio.org has submitted IPRA requests and requests to the Alamogordo School Board president to confirm rather "a majority of the elected APS school board members have expressed support for a Charter School.

To date the Alamogordo School Board president, Angela Cadwallader has refused to comment on questions raised by our reporting.

The statement in the Charter School pre-application that claims, "local news coverage has also received positive feedback when highlighting efforts," is suspect at best, given the Daily News has done no reporting to date, and the founding board has not communicated with our media outlets and our over 12,000 daily readers and listeners.

As such, we have submitted IPRA requests of which include thousands of pages of documentation in an effort to see dialog and discussion, or any dialog between school board members officially expressing support for a charter program that would pull students from APS oversight.

To date, with a partial data dump, no such documentation of support for the Charter project has NOT been found. If there is support it was not done via public and open meetings by the school board.

However, documentation has been found via other IPRA requests that provide insight into the process and who is “in the know.” 

The Flickinger Center is yet again, ground zero for planning and education by a select few on the process for advocacy for bringing in a charter school. 

An email of November 10th, 2023 from Lorrie Black sent to the seated city commissioners, the mayor, members of the county commission, to the state senators and state representatives, and Yvette Herrell requested their attendance at Flickinger (a non-profit, non-partisan arts venue) to a December 7, 2023 meeting to "hear about the work needed to get a public charter school into Alamogordo."

Noticeably absent from the invite list was Congressman Gabe Vasquez, yet Mrs. Herrell was invited, also absent was the press, the school board, the teachers union -NEA representatives or student representatives. 

Mrs. Black prefaced the invite with her interpretation of a statement from Col. Rosales concerning student safety. Her interpretation of concern differs from the narrative as stated from the school liason of the "progress being made between APS and Holloman" as witnessed above.

This program was hosted by charter school advocacy groups, Public Charter Schools New Mexico and Excellent Schools New Mexico. 

Public Charter Schools New Mexico raises a red flag on their homepage of concerns about funding and sustainability of Charter Schools in New Mexico to be considered as a part of the dialogue with the public - “Despite 20 years of history in New Mexico and serving over 25,000 students each year, our charter schools are in severe danger of funding cuts and new laws that restrict their ability to serve students.” 

The meeting was not open to the public and the closed group of elected officials were who the invite was sent to.

On January 22, 2024 after the receipt of the pre-application  Melissa Brown of the NMPED sent an email to the Charter School Planning Team that explained the schedule of new application training sessions and zoom links to those sessions. The sessions are scheduled for 1-29-24, 2-12-24, 3-18-24 and 4-22-24.

Of note Commissioner Vicki Marquardt felt a need to send a note to the County Attorney , Roy Nichols that she was invited but did not attend?

Another revelation from our investigation into the Charter School application process is that questions were raised, to both the school board chairwoman, and to NMPED on rather APS School board Craig Danekas serving on the elected board of APS and the charter founding committee was a conflict of interest?

The school board chairwoman, Angela Cadwallader has refused to respond to the questions raised. She refuses to respond to any of our media queries and has had a history of ignoring our questions since prior to the election. She does, however, submit information directly to the Sentinel, to field her messages via their blog of 300 readers, rather than have the information flow via the public information office to the press release master list. 

Representatives of NMPED are forwarding more documentation to us per information requests. 

Found among those queries was information that APS School board member, Craig Danekas, has resigned from the Charter School founding committee, “due to a potential conflict of interest.

This is an appropriate response to resign given he was elected to represent Alamogordo Public Schools and to build it into the best possible system for its students. 


In larger communities, there is a distinct need for charter schools to fill gaps in educational needs. 

In Alamogordo the question is does it need a STEM charter school


can an enhanced STEM program and curriculum be implemented into the existing school infrastructure to best serve student needs?

If those championing a charter school concept want to win over public opinion and support for the charter initiative; education as to why the community is better served by using a charter outside of the APS system is necessary.

Transparency must be the primary objective. Transparency of each step taken, as each step is taken, open dialog with citizens, stakeholders and the press is a must.

If public funds are to be displaced from the Alamogordo Public School System into a publicly funded separate Charter School System then the public has the right to participate in discussions, understand the timing and the process and the right to transparency of the decisions being made to enable the program. 

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