Espanola school board candidates collage

The Española School Board candidates include (first row, from left) Ruben Archuleta, Regina Gonzales, Lauren Reichelt, Jeremy Maestas, (second row, from left) Pablo Manzanares, James Garcia, Brandon Bustos and Yolanda Salazar. Dominic Tafoya and Matthew Paña are not pictured.

Dominic Tafoya

Running for: District 1

Age: 43

Occupation: Manager at Fruit Basket in Velarde

Education: University of New Mexico-Los Alamos

Lives in: Truchas

What’s one issue with Española schools you think is not discussed enough?

“The $600,000 worth of inventory and supplies that went missing that no one’s been held accountable for. That’s a lot of supplies and resources that could have been used for the kids.”

Do you think the District is ready to control its own finances?

“I do believe (the New Mexico Public Education Department) should still play some role in it, because we obviously got ourselves into this mess and the state fixed it.”

Yolanda Salazar

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Yolanda Salazar

Running for: District 1 (incumbent)

Age: 48

Occupation: Physician’s assistant at Española Hospital

Education: Master’s degree, University of New Mexico

Lives in: Chimayó

What’s one issue with Española schools you think is not discussed enough?

The condition of some of our older schools, one of them being Chimayó Elementary. There’s just so much that needs to be done to the structure of the building to improve the environment for the students.”

Do you think the District is ready to control its own finances?

“Yes, I do. With the staff that we have in place, I believe we can manage our finances.”

Brandon Bustos

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Brandon Bustos

Running for: District 2

Age: 20

Occupation: Apprentice Lineman at Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative

Education: Graduated from Española Valley High School

Lives in: Española

What’s one issue with Española schools you think is not discussed enough? 

“Having no teachers, because when I was in school there were no teachers whatsoever. Nothing but (substitutes).”

Do you think the District is ready to control its own finances?

“Honestly, I still think we could use more knowledge about it. I wouldn’t say we’re ready yet.”

Matthew Paña

Running for: District 2 (incumbent)

Age: 45

Occupation: Painters union at Los Alamos National Laboratory

Education: Graduated from Española Valley High School

Lives in: Española

What’s one issue with Española schools you think is not discussed enough?

“The type of programs that we are lacking in special education.”

Do you think the District is ready to control its own finances?

“It just makes things a lot easier when we’re in control of our own finances.”

James Garcia

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James Garcia

Running for: District 4

Age: 75

Occupation: Educator

Education: Doctorate in Education Administration, University of Colorado, Boulder

Lives in: Chilí

What’s one issue with Española schools you think is not discussed enough?

“The School District has to develop a stronger credibility with the entire community. I’ve heard a lot of people say, ‘What the heck are they doing with all that money?’”

Do you think the District is ready to control its own finances?

“I think they probably are right now, because they brought a brand new director of finance from the state that seems to be helping out. There’s just too many oversights, and the documentation isn’t entirely there as to how they spend the money.”

Pablo Manzanares

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Pablo Manzanares

Running for: District 4

Age: 40

Occupation: Salesman at Toyota Santa Fe

Education: Bachelor’s degree from College of Santa Fe

Lives in: Tierra Azul

What’s one issue with Española schools you think is not discussed enough?

“Security. I know we’ve had a couple instances. The current Board didn’t really address it.”

Do you think the District is ready to control its own finances?

“I don’t know. I can’t answer that question. I’m not a Board member.”

Jeremy Maestas

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Jeremy Maestas

Running for: District 4

Age: 28

Occupation: Parks and Recreation Director for Rio Arriba County

Education: Graduated from Española Valley High School

Lives in: Hernandez

What’s one issue with Española schools you think is not discussed enough?

“Definitely the high turnover in employment and the low student enrollment. We definitely need to start looking at why people are leaving our district.”

Do you think the District is ready to control its own finances?

“I don’t think that we are. I think there’s still a lot fiscal irresponsibility, a lot of mismanagement of funds, and I think that’s evident by a lot things that are happening.”

Lauren Reichelt

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Lauren Reichelt

Running for: District 4

Age: 59

Occupation: Health and Human Services Director for Rio Arriba County

Education: Master’s Degree in Comparative Culture, Sophia University, Tokyo

Lives in: Española

What’s one issue with Española schools you think is not discussed enough?

“I think it is really important to survey people who have taken their children out of the District. We can’t know why they left unless we ask them.”

Do you think the District is ready to control its own finances?

“If we elect a school board that has some knowledge of how you manage public money, and not co-mingle funds, then the District can do fine.”

Regina Gonzales

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Regina Gonzales

Running for: District 5

Age: 41

Occupation: Administrative Assistant at Los Alamos National Laboratory

Education: Graduated from Santa Fe High School

Lives in: Chamita

What’s one issue with Española schools you think is not discussed enough?

“I don’t think we’re talking about supporting the staff enough. I think if we’re not supporting staff the way we should be, we can’t support students the way we should.”

Do you think the District is ready to control its own finances?

“I don’t think (the Public Education Department) has enough knowledge about what a district needs directly to support the needs of a district. They made it hard for us to get what we needed in order to function.”

Ruben Archuleta

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Ruben Archuleta

Running for: District 5 (incumbent)

Age: 46

Occupation: CT technologist at Española Hospital

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Radiologic Sciences, University of New Mexico

Lives in: Alcalde

What’s one issue with Española schools you think is not discussed enough?

“Our math scores. Our other scores have gone up gradually, but our math scores have gone down. I think we really need to tackle that issue.”

Do you think the District is ready to control its own finances?

“We’re in a better place, because we hired a level-2 business manager from Santa Fe and that helps. We just got to make sure we follow the procedures in place.”

 

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