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Get Involved In School Board

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Let’s offer a salute to outgoing Santa Fe Public School board members Frank Montaño and Barbara Gudwin. Veterans of public service both, over the last several years they have contributed positively to education in the district.

A note to others who would like to serve: The deadline for declaring candidacy for the two open seats on the board is Tuesday.

We urge anyone interested in education policy and the schools to step up and participate by running for the board. Santa Fe has been well served by those who have taken an interest and shouldered the responsibility of public office.

In the past, people have been elected to the school board by default — with only a single candidate showing up to run for a particular seat. With so much ferment in the Santa Fe district these days and all the calls for change and improvement, it would be a shame if voters don’t get some good choices when the school elections are held in February.

For a glimpse of what might happen, look no farther than Questa, where a deadlocked school board has been suspended by the state Public Education Department. At a hearing this week, it was pretty clear that was a smart move. Several school board members distinguished themselves at the hearing — as they have since election — by pettiness, personality disputes and a concern for anything except responsibility for the public business of the Questa school district.

As both Montaño and Gudwin noted Monday, when they announced they wouldn’t run for Santa Fe board positions again, public service is time-consuming and exhausting. Thankless, sometimes, too — Montaño and Gudwin were in the minority in the recent debate over who should be superintendent of Santa Fe schools.

Up in Questa, three responsible school board members — as opposed to the irresponsible other three who are on record as preferring a fight in the parking lot over honoring student achievement — this week expressed their willingness to be “thrown under the bus” if that would move the Questa district forward toward responsible management.

In Questa as in Santa Fe, voters have a say: Four of the seven seats on the Questa school board will be on the ballot in February. There especially, we urge parents and others concerned about the quality and direction of their schools to get involved.

But the message and plea for involvement applies equally well in Santa Fe, where two of the five seats are up for grabs.

Democracy involves obligation. Please do your part.

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