When the superintendent position at Santa Fe Public Schools opened in 2016, the school board turned to Veronica García on an interim basis.

García, a former state education secretary who had previously served in the district’s top job, quickly became the permanent hire.

Four years earlier, the board hunted nationwide for someone to replace ousted Superintendent Bobbie Gutierrez and plucked Joel Boyd from the School District of Philadelphia.

During a special meeting at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, the school board will begin to map its path forward following García’s announcement earlier this week that she plans to retire June 30.

“We’re on a good path, and I feel strongly that we need to be clear in our prospects and timelines going forward,” board President Kate Noble said. “And we need to move quickly.”

The board has less than four months to find a replacement for García, which is about the same amount of time it had to find a new superintendent in 2012, when it terminated Gutierrez’s contract.

Boyd tendered his resignation in early July 2016, prompting a rush to find an interim leader before the start of a new school year.

Board members seem interested in moving quickly to find a replacement.

Board member Carmen Gonzales said García’s successor will have “big shoes to fill,” and that she is open to conducting a national search. However, she also indicated she would prefer a strong local or internal candidate.

“The only reason why I support a New Mexico candidate is they understand our students and this state,” Gonzales said. “When they come from the outside, it’s not as easy to transition here.”

García said she believes a few of her associate and deputy superintendents are qualified to step into the role, and she feels the collaborative leadership style of the district’s administration has allowed them to take on larger projects and learn from those experiences.

She said the board members who hired her “charged me with leadership development and planning and mentoring.”

“Some of the people I brought in, like Linda Sink and Dr. Tom Ryan, are very astute leaders, and we worked to mentor and support the den of the district,” García said. “So, I think there are several people who are ready to take the helm. I really do.”

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