When Lorraine Price hammered down the gavel as president of the Santa Fe school board, you knew it was time to end the discussion.
Whether she was serving as president or in some other capacity on the board, Price adopted a no-nonsense, let’s-get-to-the-point attitude that stressed efficiency in getting the job done.
“She didn’t suffer bull crap — ever,” current school board President Kate Noble said of Price, who died last week at her home in Santa Fe at the age of 72.
The cause of death remains unknown, but Price had been dealing with health issues for years.
“She believed in brevity and not wasting people’s times in saying the same thing over and over again,” Noble said.
A Brooklyn native who was African American, Price came of age during the civil rights era of the 1950s and ’60s.
During board meetings, she often brought up her past experiences marching and protesting on behalf of women, students and minorities.
She told The New Mexican in 2013 that despite her advocacy, she was only arrested once — for trying to help a friend see a sick relative in the hospital. The charges were later dropped.
Price, who was first elected to the school board in 2013, came to Santa Fe in the mid-1980s. She then worked as a teacher, assistant principal and principal at a number of public schools, including Gonzales Elementary School, Capshaw Middle School, Piñon Elementary School, Santa Fe High School and Capital High School.
As assistant principal of Piñon Elementary School, Price served on a committee that pushed to end sexual harassment in the schools in the 1990s. She once taught a class on sociology, race and culture at Santa Fe Community College.
“I’ve seen where I can be helpful based on my experience, knowledge and love of teaching,” she said in 2012, when she announced her candidacy for the District 5 school board seat.
The following year, she told The New Mexican: “I care about our community. I want to make a difference on a policymaking level that I wasn’t able to when I was a teacher, an assistant principal and a principal.”
She ran again, unopposed, in 2017, for her seat.
Former school board member Linda Trujillo said Price was a “ferocious advocate” for children who stood her ground on issues she believed in, even if her stance was unpopular.
Price often declined to discuss her reasons for voting for or against an issue. She sometimes would offer just a few words of explanation.
At other times, she spoke loudly and clearly about why she supported or opposed a measure — as when she voted against a bond that would pay for computers and other technological devices.
At the time, the law said the school board had the right to impose a bond without asking voters for approval, even though it would raise property taxes.
Price believed that even though it was the law, the board should not make that decision.
Price also brought humor to school board meetings with barbs that spotlighted the absurdity of an action or motion.
Noble said Price’s humor struck a balance between “is it worth fighting to get it right or better?” and “nothing is really that serious unless it’s life and death.”
She called Price “the original equity warrior.”
Former school board member Steve Carrillo said that while he and Price did not always see eye to eye on issues, “there is no one I met in my life more committed to social justice and public service” than she was.
“She was dedicated to Santa Fe Public Schools,” he said. “You can’t ask for more.”
Price had not yet said whether she would seek reelection in November. Her term ran through the end of the year. Noble said board members will begin discussing how to replace Price in the coming days.
At the Aug. 12 school board meeting, Price’s voice was raspy, but she spoke with enthusiasm about seeing the board members in person again soon.
“I really appreciate what we do together, whether we agree or not on any issue,” she said. “I really appreciate how we work together. And that we, at the end, have a little levity. I appreciate that, too.”
Trujillo said friends and family members hope to plan a memorial service for Price in the near future.
“It’s such a loss to the community, such a loss to the world,” Trujillo said of Price’s death.