Santa Fe Public Schools are excited to partner with its community as it embraces a new year approaching, with new realities and a new vision for the future.
At the District, we are deeply grateful to the constituents of Santa Fe for adopting the General Bond Bond and Factory Tax, which will impact all students through building renovations, sustainability efforts. such as solar power and outdoor classrooms, high air quality and much more.
Our community is poised to respond to another critical need: the impact of Santa Fe’s high cost of living on educators and other district staff. To provide high quality education for students, the district must face this reality. Otherwise, he cannot fulfill his promise to the students.
By tackling this problem, Santa Fe can strengthen its regional, state and national recognition as a place that values investment in its educators and high-quality learning and become a destination of choice for teachers and other essential personnel. .
Under the leadership of President Kate Noble, the Santa Fe Public Schools Education Board unanimously passed a staff crisis resolution in November that has the potential to retain more than 50 percent of educators surveyed in August by NEA-Santa Fe who are concerned about their ability to continue working in Santa Fe due to rising housing costs. Over 400 district educators were interviewed.
With the median price of homes in Santa Fe County at $ 600,000, 35% more than last year, and some rentals ranging from $ 2,000 to $ 4,000, we need to act now.
As Noble said at the board meeting, if district staff cannot live and work in Santa Fe, we lose our community.
The city and the community are to be commended for building thousands more apartments. It is encouraging to see new housing popping up all over the place.
New apartment buildings will greatly reduce the demand for housing, especially if rental costs are affordable. But renting requires paying a large amount of money up front, which is extremely expensive for a teacher who earns an average of $ 53,000.
Our hope is to immediately respond to the critical housing needs of educators and staff. More and more people are committed to solving this problem, which is exciting.
Many city councilors have approved a complementary resolution from Councilor Signe Lindell; school council vice-president Rudy Garcia will present a complementary resolution as a member of the county commission; and the NEA-Santa Fe, the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce, and the Santa Fe Housing Action Coalition are central leaders. The coalition will serve as a convening and facilitating body to develop housing solutions to address this crisis.
There is more. We are in discussions with the New Mexico Department of Early Childhood Education and Care about the possibility of the district providing child care to staff. Be aware that the average monthly educator child care expense reported to NEA-Santa Fe is $ 954.
Salaries must continue to be a high legislative priority. The school board met with the Santa Fe legislative delegation this month to demand a 10% increase in educator salaries, which will go a long way in making the district competitive with surrounding states and keeping educators in Santa Fe.
So often we hear that educators are drawn to teaching to make a difference. We also need compensation and community support to be a priority when a person chooses education as a career.
Santa Fe can be the prototype to attract educators by putting their needs for affordable housing, support services and well-paying jobs first.
Let’s continue to work together to embrace our educators and our learning.
Hilario “Larry” Chavez is principal of the Santa Fe Public Schools.