People interested in the superintendent position at Santa Fe Public Schools have another week to submit their applications.

The district announced Friday afternoon it would extend the application deadline to April 5. The job will start following Superintendent Veronica García's retirement in June. García announced March 8 that she planned to step down.

Friday had been the previous deadline.

School board President Kate Noble said during their most recent meeting, she and other members discussed a plan to accept applications for two weeks starting March 22.

However, she said, the district’s website posted the job opening March 12, which created some confusion. She added the timing of spring break (March 15-20) and the end of the 60-day legislative session March 20 made it more practical to announce the official job posting later in the month.

“That was a little bit of a sunk week,” Noble said. “We wanted to give it a little more time. None of us have seen or know who the candidates would be, and we wanted to get the [deadline] extension out before the close of business, just to be very clear that it has nothing to do with the pool of candidates.”

García said her administrative team worked quickly to get the job description ready, which was why the opening was posted prior to the target date.

“We were able to do that a week ahead of time, and we worked on getting it out on social media and on our website,” García said. “We tried to communicate it as broadly as we could.”

Even with the extended deadline, Noble said the board’s goal is to announce a hire by the end of April. She said board members will examine the pool of candidates and develop a list of finalists shortly after April 5, and hopefully set up a day of interviews with each of them.

Roberta Colton and Sharon Eklund of the local nonprofit Interfaith Coalition for Public Education released a joint statement expressing concern about the speed of the search and lack of public input regarding it.

“Lacking an opportunity to participate in the selection process, how will parents and other concerned, committed community members assure that the best candidate pool possible is available for consideration for this critical post?” the statement read.

Noble said she intends to hold public forums with constituents to find out what they are looking for in the next superintendent. She added she has received emails from community members seeking to provide their input on the search or to express confidence in the board’s ability to hire García’s successor.

Noble said she hopes other board members are seeking similar discussions with the community.

“There are a lot of perspectives out there, and that’s why I want to hear from lots of people,” Noble said. “Because it is about kids and family, we need to have that strong aspect of priorities in mind as we select the next superintendent.”

García is retiring after five years in her second stint with the school district. She also held the position from 1999 to 2002.

In her second tenure, García has overseen a rise in four-year graduation rates — from 67 percent for the class of 2015, the year before she arrived, to 86.3 percent for the 2019-20 school year. She also guided the district's transition last year from in-person to remote learning in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

García also testified in the landmark Yazzie/Martinez education lawsuit, which determined the state was failing to provide an adequate education for many of its at-risk students.

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