Santa Fe Public Schools’ board of education hired 33-year-old Joel Boyd, assistant superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia, as its new superintendent Thursday night.
Board President Frank Montaño announced the news during a special board meeting. He said Boyd accepted a two-year contract at $171,000 a year and should start by Aug. 1.
All five board members voted for the move, and all of them displayed rarely seen expressions of joy as they spoke with optimism about Boyd’s potential to take the district in a new, positive direction.
Board member Steve Carrillo said he is “very excited for the future of Santa Fe Public Schools.” Board member Glenn Wikle said Boyd has made “a commitment to advance Santa Fe Public Schools to be among the top districts — if not the top district — in the state.” Board member Barbara Gudwin echoed those sentiments and noted that Boyd wanted to turn the district “into one of the best places to work.” She said Boyd made it clear that he would not accept poverty as a reason for low academic achievement among students here.
Board Vice President Linda Trujillo said Boyd also emphasized the need for professional development among school employees and displayed a commitment to dual-language learning.
Montaño said Boyd’s youth and energy “will allow him to hit the ground running.” He said Boyd rose to the top of the six semifinalists interviewed by the board over the past two weeks due to his charisma and his ability to “inspire our district to be a better district.”
During a short phone interview Thursday night, Boyd said he is “honored by the opportunity. I’m looking forward to joining the Santa Fe Public Schools team.”
Boyd is a Delaware native who holds a master’s degree in education policy and management from Harvard University and a master’s in school leadership from Wilmington College. As assistant superintendent, he has overseen 37 K-8 schools in Philadelphia and earns about $141,000. That district has a budget of about $2.7 billion and about 150,000 students, compared to the Santa Fe district’s enrollment of 13,000 students and an $84.6 million budget. About 42 percent of Philadelphia’s schools made AYP in 2010-11.
In brief interviews with The New Mexican, Boyd has stressed the need to address the district’s low graduation rate (about 56.5 percent) and improve achievement rates among students.
Thursday’s meeting drew fewer than 20 people, most of whom work for Santa Fe Public Schools. Only one person — Santa Fe’s NEA representative, Bernice Garcia Baca, spoke about the new hire during a public forum. Baca said that while some people criticized the board for moving so quickly with this decision, she felt that many district personnel believed it was not quick enough.”To have a stoppage of any kind would be really difficult to deal with,” she said.
She noted that many of the finalists, including Boyd, have elicited “a lot of negative reports on union relations” but said she and the district’s teachers want to put any doubts aside and work together to improve the district’s academic performance.
“We hope, we hope that things go well and that so many efforts we have put in will pay off,” she said.
Earlier this week, the board hired Tom Sullivan as interim superintendent to serve from Monday, July 2 until Boyd settles in.
In February, the board voted to buy out current Superintendent Bobbie Gutierrez’s contract a year early. She officially stays in the position through Saturday.
Contact Robert Nott at 986-3021 or email@example.com.