Española School District Superintendent Bobbie Gutierrez announced Monday she will retire at the end of her current contract on June 30.
Gutierrez said she felt like it was appropriate to step down with the recent inclusion of two new members on the Española School Board.
“I’m simply not seeking a contract extension,” she said. “I had been thinking it was a good time with the new Board.”
Gutierrez, 63, said she also wants to spend more time with her family, especially her grandchildren.
“Time starts to get short and it just seems to be a good time for us to enjoy life a little more,” she said.
She said she notified the Board of her decision during a Dec. 11 retreat at the Los Luceros Historic Site.
Gutierrez said she still wants to improve the District during her last six months, saying she will still work on implementing the K-5 Plus and Extended Learning programs at every school site and developing the District’s Facilities Master Plan, which highlights the various structural needs of the Española Valley’s schools.
She said she will also still lobby for the District during the 2020 New Mexico Legislative Session, which starts Jan. 21.
Board members publicly thanked Gutierrez for her commitment to the District.
“During her tenure, Bobbie has brought educational and financial stability to our school district,” Board President Yolanda Salazar said in an official statement. “Ultimately, it is our students who have benefited from the programs implemented or improved under Bobbie’s watch.”
These programs include Cooking with Kids and band classes at Española Valley High School and Española Middle School. Graduation rates also saw a slight increase under Gutierrez, with 71 percent of last year’s senior class graduating.
Gutierrez was first hired as superintendent in Española after being fired from the same position in Santa Fe Public Schools.
She was then asked to resign by the Board just a year later for placing then-boy’s basketball coach Richard Martinez, who was accused of physically and verbally abusing his players, on administrative leave.
The Board rehired Gutierrez in 2017 soon after the state stripped the District of its financial authority.
The District regained control of its finances last summer, which Gutierrez said was one her biggest accomplishments, thanks to a number of new hires in the business office.
Gutierrez said it feels good to be leaving the District on her own terms this time.
She signed a one-year extension to her contract in 2019. While the contract included no pay raise, it did give her an additional 10 vacation days, bringing the total to 40.
Gutierrez is allowed to receive payments on no more than 30 unused vacation days, which would result in Gutierrez receiving a little over $16,000, although she does not expect to have that much by next June.
“I’ll burn some of them down,” she said. “I’m not interested in some big payout from the District.”
The Board, with new members Jeremy Maestas and Brandon Bustos, will now have to go through the process of hiring a new superintendent to take Gutierrez’s place.
During their campaigns and after the election, Maestas and Bustos voiced their concerns about Gutierrez’s management of the District, specifically with the lack of teachers and substitutes. Maestas said in a previous interview that if he were to select a new superintendent, he would prefer someone originally from the Española Valley.
When reached for comment, Maestas wrote in a text message that all questions must go through Salazar as “she is the only one authorized to speak on behalf of the Board.”
A special meeting will be convened on Thursday (1/16), where the Board will discuss and possibly decide how the search will be conducted, whether it is handled by the District or an outside firm.
Gutierrez said she took the search for her replacement into consideration when deciding to announce her retirement six months in advance.
“We’re not the only district that needs a superintendent, so I just wanted to be sure that it was early so there was plenty of time for the selection process,” she said.
Gutierrez said her advice to anyone considering applying for the superintendent position should be knowledgeable about managing the local politics in a small community like Española.