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García: SFPS will continue to soar

As I retire as superintendent of the Santa Fe Public Schools, I thank you for entrusting me to educate your children and ensure that their needs are holistically met. I know firsthand the power of a quality public education and I’ve wanted no less for your children than I’ve wanted for mine.

It has been an immense honor to collaborate with so many partners – dedicated school board members, parents, families, faculty, staff, volunteers, local government and civic leaders, unions, nonprofit organizations and advocates – to ensure a positive, enlightening and equitable opportunity for success for ALL of our students.

Veronica C. Garcia, former Superintendent of Santa Fe Public Schools.

Leading this work has been our vision, guiding principles and mission, which preface our strategic plan, a blueprint to ensure every student a safe, high-quality and engaging education that values diversity, equity and social justice, and fully maximizes district and community resources. During my tenure, we’ve remained true to this and our core beliefs, which resulted from our collaborative community-wide stakeholder work, Project Northstar.

We’ve championed public education as a fundamental right of every child.

Students are the heart of what we do, with teaching, learning and equity at the core of our work.

We believe in creating strong and committed relationships among students, staff, families and the community, in high expectations for all, in providing equitable educational opportunities while celebrating our diversity in a nurturing and safe environment, that successful schools are engaging, collaborative, joyful and inspiring and in ethical and respectful leadership.

I am fully confident that this will continue to be embraced under the highly capable leadership of Superintendent Hilario “Larry” Chavez and his team. The new district leadership that he has assembled has been a part of implementing this strategic plan and most of the team has served on my cabinet and at the district level. They are well-positioned to carry the torch forward and lead the district to new heights.

Over the last five years, with support from the board of education and our stakeholders, we’ve been committed stewards of the district’s resources. Consecutive audits have been completed on time with unmodified opinions; we’ve kept our promises on every ballot initiative, completing capital projects on time and within budget; we’ve improved our dropout and graduation rates; and we were showing progress in improved student achievement. However, an effort to track longitudinal data was hindered by the pandemic. Despite this and the state’s changes to annual assessments, our formative assessment results indicate that we’ve exceeded our strategic plan indicator for 3rd-grade reading, a key benchmark for ensuring future academic success.

We’ve created a collegial and supportive culture where high expectations, a commitment to excellence and utilizing data-driven decision-making were central to our becoming a continuous improvement district.

Due to the generosity of our voters in consistently supporting the Education Technology Notes, we were able to be light years ahead of most in our state and in the country in pivoting to remote learning, and providing high-quality lessons and learning opportunities. From implementing a strong K-12 computer science initiative to increasing the number of five-star-rated pre-K programs, SFPS continues to be a flagship district for the state.

We worked hard to recognize our teachers and employees with a focus on recruitment and retention, and created a culture of supportive collegiality while raising expectations for excellence, which is why I know that SFPS will continue to soar.

SFPS is an amazing, culturally rich, diverse and welcoming district in a city that shares the same distinctions. I am forever grateful to have worked alongside a community that recognizes our vision that unity is strength, learning is everything and dreams are unlimited.

And, with that, I say mil gracias, adiós y hasta luego.

Dr. Veronica C. García, Ed.D., retired as superintendent of Santa Fe Public Schools effective June 30.

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