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Santa Fe schools’ interim superintendent gets a fast start

SANTA FE — Veronica Garcia hit the ground running Monday, coming off a whirlwind weekend in which she learned Santa Fe Public Schools was seeking an interim superintendent, interviewed for the position, and was hired — all within a span of 24 hours.

Veronica Garcia, Santa Fe Public School interim Superintendent

GARCIA: Will work as a consultant for one month

“I spent my first day meeting with people,” she said in a phone interview late Monday afternoon. “I spent most of the time with Joel, but also met with other members of the leadership team.”

Garcia, 65, a former Santa Fe superintendent and state secretary of education, is filling the position being vacated by Joel Boyd, who after four years as superintendent announced last week he was taking a job with an education technology company.

While Garcia signed on to be interim superintendent, both she and the school board have left the door open for her to serve as a permanent replacement. “I think that it’s really important that the process plays itself out,” she said. “We’ll have to hear what district employees want in their superintendent, see if I enjoy the role, and what kind of relationship develops with the board, staff and community. We will all have to reassess that at a later date.”

Two other SFPS employees — deputy superintendent Almi Abeyta and assistant superintendent James Luján — have also expressed interest in the job.

Technically, Garcia’s contract as interim superintendent begins Aug. 15, but she’s now being paid as a consultant. Her contract for the interim position is written to end no sooner than Feb. 15 and no later than June 30.

“The reason we did that was because we needed a big window because we don’t know how the search will go,” said Susan Duncan, Santa Fe school board president. “The first thing we need to do is open the schools. We’ll be working on a plan next month and probably by September we can start thinking about a permanent replacement.”

Garcia was superintendent in Santa Fe from 1999 to 2002. “She already knew the district and is well thought of — not just in our district but with educators statewide,” Duncan said.

In a press release announcing the hiring Saturday, the school district touted her experience and fiscal record while she was with SFPS, transforming a $2.6 million deficit into a $2.4 million cash balance.

Garcia left SFPS in 2003 to become the state’s first secretary of education. She held that position through the Gov. Bill Richardson administration, which ended in 2010. Since 2012, she’s been a executive director for New Mexico Voices for Children.

At SFPS, Garcia will be paid $180,000 a year, the same as Boyd. Her consultant agreement goes for one month and is for $10,800.

Garcia said she was at a conference in San Antonio, Texas, last week and was between flights in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport Friday night when she got the call asking if she’d be interested in serving as interim superintendent and whether she could be in Santa Fe the next day to interview. It all happened so fast, her daughter found out through social media that she was hired before she had a chance to tell her.

“People ask me how did you make the decisions so quickly. It just felt right, and everything fell into place,” she said.



Former state education secretary Veronica Garcia was named interim superintendent of Santa Fe Public Schools following several hours of deliberation by the school board on Saturday.

She will fill the position being vacated by Joel Boyd, who after four years in Santa Fe announced last week he was leaving to take a job working for an education company in the private sector, until a permanent replacement is hired.


Veronica Garcia (JOURNAL FILE)

It is Garcia’s second go-round with SFPS, she having served as superintendent from 1999 to 2002 prior to her being confirmed as the state’s first Secretary of Education under Gov. Bill Richardson, a position she held from 2003 to 2010.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to once again serve the Santa Fe Public Schools and to work with the Board, Staff, and Community,” she said in a school district press release on Saturday. “We will continue to focus on providing a high-quality education to all of our students.”

Garcia has been serving as executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, a state children’s advocacy organization.

Her contract with SFPS beings Aug. 15 and will end no sooner than Feb. 15, 2017, and no later than June 30, 2017, according to the release. She will be paid at an annual rate of $180,000, the same wage Boyd was making.

Until her contract kicks in, she will be paid $10,800 for “consulting work” beginning today.

“I look forward to working with Dr. Garcia during this transition and am confident the District will continue to be one of the fastest improving districts in New Mexico under her leadership,” Boyd said in a statement.

Grace Mayer, the President of the National Education Association-Santa Fe, said the local teachers union was encouraged by the selection.

“Her ability to look at multiple perspectives and come to mutually beneficial decisions, we hope, will help improve relationships during this challenging transition,” Mayer said.

The school district’s press release touted Garcia’s fiscal record while she was with SFPS, transforming a $2.6 million deficit into a $2.4 million cash balance, and her work as state education secretary.

“Under her leadership, New Mexico garnered top rankings for school reform, accountability systems, increased teacher quality, data quality, health and wellness policies, parental involvement, and college and career readiness,” the press release stated.


SANTA FE, N.M. — Santa Fe Public Schools has named a former New Mexico public education secretary and one of its former leaders as interim superintendent.

The Santa Fe Board of Education voted Saturday to hire Veronica Garcia as the district’s interim leader while the board looks for a permanent replacement. The move comes after Superintendent Joel Boyd recently announced he would leave the position for another job.

Garcia was executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, a group that has put out annual reports ranking the state low on child poverty.

She served as New Mexico public education secretary under former Gov. Bill Richardson and led Santa Fe Public Schools from 1999 to 2002.

The 65-year-old Garcia says she is honored to work for the district again.