To the relief of many teachers, parents and students, the Santa Fe school board voted late Wednesday night not to close any schools and instead take some time to study such issues as inequity, interzone transfers and rezoning school boundaries to address declining enrollment and aging school facilities within the district.
The vote took place after a three-hour public forum during which more than 60 people spoke — virtually all of them opposing the proposed closure of Acequia Madre, E.J. Martinez and Nava elementary schools.
The school board considered two options to address the situation that were on the agenda of Wednesday’s meeting in the form of resolutions.
The first, offered by outgoing school board member Maureen Cashmon and board vice president Lorraine Price, called for planning to begin to close the three elementary schools, citing declining student enrollment at the elementary school level, student capacity at some elementary school sites and shifts in student population.
Keeping in mind that the make up of the board would change after Jan. 1, Cashmon amended the resolution to say that no steps would be taken to close the schools until after two new board members had the opportunity to vote on overturning the decision.
Nevertheless, the motion to adopt the resolution was defeated by a 3-2 vote, with board president Kate Noble, secretary Rudy Garcia and member Steve Carrillo voting no.
Later, the board approved a resolution brought by Noble, which called for the school district to adopt the National School Boards Association’s definition and commitment to equity and directed Superintendent Veronica García to come back with a process, framework and projected budget to study the many issues impacting the district by the end of February.
Garcia, Noble and Carrillo approved that resolution on another 3-2 vote.
The board considered the fact that two of its members would no longer be serving on the board after the first of the year, as Carrillo lost his reelection bid to Carmen Gonzales and Sarah Boses won the seat being vacated by Cashmon in the school board election on Tuesday.
Both Gonzales and Boses stated during their campaigns that they were opposed to closing any schools.