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Turquoise Trail’s grade rises from D to A

SANTA FE, N.M. — Standing out among the A-F school grades handed out by the state Public Education Department on Thursday was the A received by Turquoise Trail Charter School.

Not only is it significant that Turquoise Trail was one of just 88 schools statewide that received the highest grade possible, the preschool to sixth-grade charter school located on NM 14 between Santa Fe and Cerrillos earned the A after receiving a D a year ago.

“When a community has a common purpose and cause, and people work together cooperatively, great things can happen,” said Ray Griffin, Turquoise Trail’s head administrator.

That common purpose and cause is to disengage from Santa Fe Public Schools by applying with the state to become an independent charter school. Last week the school’s governance council voted unanimously to do just that.

“This decision was a very difficult one, especially given the longstanding support we have received from Santa Fe Public Schools,” Floyd J. Trujillo, president of the governance council, said in a news release. “However, we believe that this step will give us additional flexibility necessary to improve our students’ educational opportunities.”

Griffin said applying to become a state-authorized charter school was something the school has been considering for some time. The D the school received last year served as motivation to improve its grade.

“We knew a year ago that we were going to make a decision as a school to authorize with the state or Santa Fe Public Schools,” he said. “Because the possibility of authorizing with the state was real, we didn’t want to stand in from of the Public Education Commission and explain a D.”

Griffin said everyone at the school got behind the effort.

“I’m very proud to say the whole staff took this on. We threw the kitchen sink of resources and proven ways to improve and were rewarded by seeing improvement in every category,” he said. “We’re absolutely thrilled and proud to get the recognition, because our teachers pushed incredibly hard and the kids responded.”

Turquoise Trail Charter School, with an enrollment of 525 students, is the oldest charter school in New Mexico, its first charter granted in 1994. It has been chartered through SFPS since then, with the current agreement slated to run through the upcoming school year.

Turquoise Trail plans to submit its application for state authorization in October and a decision is expected in January. If approved, the new charter would go into effect on July 1, 2015.