The New Mexico School Boards Association (NMSBA) informed the SFPS Board of Education on November 17th that it has been selected to receive the 2022 NMSBA Large District – School Board of the Year Award. The Board will be honored at the NMSBA’s annual convention awards luncheon at noon on Friday, December 2, at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Albuquerque.
“Our SFPS Board is truly fabulous and it's wonderful to be recognized. Every member is focused on doing the best work we can for students, and on supporting the incredible staff in the district. We make an effort to operate without drama, and with clarity and transparency. Huge thanks to our friends at NMSBA, our superintendent and his team, and to everyone in our school community, we are honored,” said SFPS Board President Kate I. Noble.
“The SFPS Board has provided outstanding support to educators by speaking to the dire need to attract and retain high-quality educators, increase educators’ salaries, bring retired teachers back to classrooms, remedy the urgent need for educator housing, improve child care options for SFPS staff and diversity our workforce,” said Superintendent Chavez. “In providing exemplary service to students, staff, parents and stakeholders, it has made a positive impact across the district. I congratulate the Board for its hard work and dedication,” he said.
Among its accomplishments, the Board passed a staffing crisis resolution in November 2021, which brought the Santa Fe community’s attention to the critical need to support, attract and retain a quality teaching force. As a result, the Santa Fe city council and county commission each passed supporting resolutions, marking a unique moment of agreement among the three governing bodies.
Staying true to the “staffing crisis” resolution, the Board adopted key legislative priorities for 2022, including no cuts to education, increasing educators’ salaries by 10 percent to compete with salaries from neighboring states, holding education harmless and an Educational Retirement Board change to allow teachers to return to work once they retire. Many of the Board’s priorities were fulfilled.
In addition, the Board’s resolution prioritized the need for teacher housing. In 2022, SFPS entered into a partnership with the Santa Fe Housing Action Coalition to address the housing issue, which led to the formation of a teacher housing workgroup that considered strategies to address housing shortages.
The Board passed a college, career and technical education resolution in January 2022 in support of continuing to build on career pathways that make secondary education more engaging and relevant, bringing the classroom into the community through work-based learning with internships, mentorships and job shadowing and expanding dual credit opportunities that are aligned to pathways. The resolution added a critical element to the overhaul of teaching and grading in SFPS.
The Board passed a third resolution in August 2022 entitled “2023 Gun Violence Prevention Legislative Priorities” that built on its previous resolution related to secure gun storage. The resolution calls on creating a New Mexico Office of Gun Violence Prevention, a common-sense child access prevention law, raising the age of purchase for certain rifles and a ban on assault-style weapons.
Currently, the Board is furthering its resolution from 2020 that calls on reimagining SFPS. The resolution adopted the National School Boards Association’s definition and commitment to equity, which states, “The promise of public education is for every child to succeed in school and life. To realize this promise, every child must be given resources, supports, and interventions based on his or her needs. The nation’s school boards are uniquely positioned to fulfill this promise to all students, which is why NSBA is committed to educational equity for all children in public schools.”
The Board has continued its forward-thinking leadership as it relates to the Martinez-Yazzie lawsuit regarding the sufficiency of state funding and has consistently absorbed the cost of employees’ rising insurance premiums.
Its Community Review Committee successfully ushered passage of the general obligation bond and mill levy in 2021, which will impact all students through building renovations, expanded sustainability efforts like solar energy and outdoor classrooms, high air quality and so much more. And its Audit Committee oversaw a clean and unmodified audit opinion for FY 21.