April 17 will be a long day for the Santa Fe school board.
That's when board members will interview finalists for the district's superintendent opening.
Board members did not say how many candidates they will interview, but they plan on meeting all finalists in one day to find a successor for Veronica García, who will retire at the end of the school year.
The interviews will be held in person at the district’s main office. Everybody in the building will follow COVID-19 guidelines outlined by the state, which will include mask-wearing and social-distancing measures.
The district will accept applications until Monday, and 15 candidates have applied for the position so far, García told the board Thursday.
Board President Kate Noble said the next step will be for García and Howard Oechsner, executive director of Human Resources, to eliminate applicants who did not meet the minimum requirements.
The district is seeking candidates with at least a master’s degree in educational administration or educational leadership, five years of teaching at a public school and a minimum of 10 years of administrative experience at a public school, which includes being a principal or a district administrator.
Noble said board members will keep an open mind as they go through the interview process.
“We are committed as a board to doing this right,” Noble said. “There is no fix, and no predetermined candidates. I am guessing that folks who are seriously applying might be tuning in to this, and I want that to be clear.”
Board members will receive a packet with information on all the qualified applicants by April 7 at the earliest, and discuss candidates the following day before compiling a list of finalists. Board members also will receive training from a member of the New Mexico School Boards Association on conducting superintendent searches prior to discussing finalists.
The board considered setting an April 10 date, but some members balked at such a quick turnaround. Board Secretary Sarah Boses said she didn’t feel she would have enough time to review the information on each candidate, and board member Carmen Gonzales added it might be a challenge to get finalists to commit to interviews so quickly.
Board members also discussed how many questions they want to ask each candidate. García, who is assisting the board with the search, suggested no more than 10 questions in order to keep the interviews moving smoothly.
In other news:
- The board took its first steps in discussing when to return to in-person meetings at the district’s central office, but opted to stay with virtual meetings for at least the rest of the school year. García told members that no more than 20 people would be allowed into the auditorium and only the five board members could be seated on the dais. She added that there was no clear plan to accommodate a large group of attendees.
- The board unanimously approved a one-time bonus of $1,000 for all district employees covered by the National Education Association-Santa Fe bargaining unit, as well as 75 employees who had to work in person while schools were closed during the pandemic. Overall, the bonuses will cost $1.418 million, and the district will use money from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations that were part of the recent federal stimulus packages.
- Associate Superintendent Larry Chavez presented a report on how the district raised its graduation rate for the 2019-20 school year. Chavez highlighted the use of end-of-year exams, the state’s 30-day extension for seniors to complete coursework, a unified effort between district and school staff to find ways to keep students on track to graduate and constant monitoring of each students’ progress.