We appreciate your Monday, Nov. 4, editorial on the possible changes at Santa Fe Public Schools (“Big decisions on tap for S.F. school district,” Our View, Nov. 4). We would like to add the following points, based on current research: School closures rarely saved the district in question significant money; money saved comes from layoffs. School closures are expensive; total cost of closures can be four times what the district expected saving. School closures often leave vacant buildings, costing the district extra maintenance funds. Student performance in schools threatened for closure drops; displaced students had lower scores for four years after closures.
Over 20 percent of students in the “welcoming schools” — or schools taking in displaced students — did not return and sought transfers from that school.
We support a transparent, research-driven, nontraumatic planning process that involves our communities. Small schools have been shown throughout the country to have higher student achievement, lower dropout rates and lower rates of violence. Reigniting the plan to shut three small schools in Santa Fe without a strategic process does not make sense— fiscal, academic or otherwise.
Maya T. Del Margo
PTA president, Nava Elementary School
PTA president, E.J. Martinez Elementary School
PTA president, Acequia Madre Elementary School
A lot to give
As an alumnus of Acequia Madre Elementary School, the idea of it being shut down has truly cut me (“SFPS ready for school closure faceoff,” Nov. 2). This school has been a part of my life for more than 10 years, not including the post-graduation visits.
As I am now a senior at Santa Fe High, I look back on those days as some of the best of my life. Acequia Madre allowed me to make lifelong friends to whom I remain connected. We have all stayed close, talking with each other frequently.
This school, I can easily say, changed my life for the better. I got a head start in education, which led me to become an AP/ honors student, introduced me to the arts and, above all, created bonds with classmates and teachers that will never go unrecognized. I urge you to keep this school open. It is the public school this city needs.
senior, Santa Fe High School
Acequia Madre graduate, class of 2014
Smaller is better
As our school board votes on whether to close one of our most successful schools, Acequia Madre, it saddens to me to watch this board consider shortsighted actions when we have so many challenges facing our public schools already.
Why would you close one of the city’s consistently successful schools just because it’s smaller than others? Why would you continue to replicate a model of large, consolidated schools when that model has and continues to fail our kids while also failing to save the district money? Why would a body that is supposed to advocate for public school children engineering a situation where only families that can afford private education have the benefit of a small learning environment?
Are we becoming a city that destroys its history, its historical establishments and its long-standing traditions in favor of “McSchools” that don’t serve our children or neighborhoods? I certainly hope not.
Jay Galván Heneghan
local business owner
former Acequia Madre parent
New schools unnecessary
Enrollment in Santa Fe public schools has been declining since the 2014-15 school year and is now at 12,225 kids. Yet in the last decade, the school board has spent more than than $120 million of taxpayers’ money on new elementary and community K-8 schools: Ramirez Thomas, El Camino Real, Nino Otero Community, Aspen Community and Amy Biehl. It also spent $50 million on Milagro Middle School and $14 million on renovating Gonzales Community School. As a result of the unnecessary new schools, the school board closed three elementary schools: Alvord, Kaune and Larragoite, and now it’s discussing closing three more elementary schools (“Get ready to reshape our public schools,” Our View, Oct. 6). We should have never built the new schools. Students would have been better served by simply redrawing each school’s boundary.
Doesn’t make sense
Would someone please explain to me why the Santa Fe Public School board wants to close Acequia Madre, one of the (few) high-performing schools in the district, when Maureen Cashmon (“School board to consider closures,” Nov. 1) says they are not sure how much money the district can save by closing a school? All education research demonstrates that students perform better in smaller schools (like Acequia Madre), yet the Santa Fe Public School board wants to close the small ones, consolidate them into the larger (and poorer-performing) schools. I don’t understand. Why doesn’t the school board want to keep schools such as Acequia Madre Elementary School open and learn from them why their students perform so well on the state’s standardized tests? Please explain.