Thanks to Santa Fe County voters, today’s classrooms don’t look like the classrooms that many adults would recognize from their childhood. In most of our classrooms, smart boards have replaced chalkboards. More often than not, teachers assign and receive schoolwork without any paper at all, and children who’ve never taken a typing class use keyboards with nimble ease. When I visit schools, I am astounded at how seamlessly the technology that voters approved three years ago has been integrated into teaching and learning in the Santa Fe Public Schools.
The 21st-century classroom, just like your technology at home, requires updating and reinvestment, which is why the district is asking voters to renew the Education Technology Note. This is not a raise in taxes, but a renewal of the funding source that has allowed Santa Fe to be a leader in preparing students with the 21st-century skills they need to be ready for college and/or career. Thanks to this funding for our public and charter schools, district classrooms are provided with necessary hardware and software, digital learning coaches to train teachers and provide technical support, access at grades K-5 to digital devices, and take-home laptops for all students in grades 7-12. I am especially proud that we can provide take-home devices, which demonstrates the district’s commitment to ensuring that all students have an equitable opportunity for success.
The digital revolution has transformed education, as it has transformed all of our lives, and we are committed to preparing our students for this new world. The Board of Education recently passed a resolution to integrate computer science in all grades to better prepare our students and meet the workforce needs of our community and beyond. However, we need resources to meet the requirements of this ambitious resolution and continue to address our classroom technology needs.
This funding is so important that we are holding a special election via mail-in ballot. This option was provided to school districts to prevent the $11 million funding gap that would occur if we had to wait for the fall general election. If this Education Technology Note does not pass, the district and Santa Fe’s charter schools will lose $11 million per year, students will lose valuable classroom services, and educational staff positions will be in jeopardy.
On Feb. 5, the county will mail out ballots with a postage-paid return envelope to all voters living within the boundary of the district. All ballots must be received at the County Clerk’s Office by no later than 7 p.m. March 5 (voters do have the option to walk their ballots in). We encourage everyone to get their ballots completed, signed, and back in the mail as soon as possible. This vote is important to the students and teachers of Santa Fe. Make your vote count and thank you!
Veronica C. García, Ed.D., is superintendent of Santa Fe Public Schools.