Noble voted in as Santa Fe school board president

March 12, 2019

When officials announced a $55 million school levy had easily been approved by Santa Fe voters Tuesday, the news — and the relief — all but drowned out another election result that evening.

Kate Noble, seen as a solid supporter of Superintendent Veronica García, is succeeding Steven Carrillo as president of the Santa Fe Board of Education.

Noble, a onetime city economic development official and more recently a candidate for mayor, took the gavel after the board voted 4-1 to elect her president. Carrillo, who had headed the board for the past year, was the lone no vote.

Ahead of the vote Tuesday, Carrillo acknowledged he would not win re-election before highlighting his work as an advocate and spokesman for the district.

“I don’t think the board wants me in this role. I know that you’re very challenged by my outspokenness in some ways,” Carrillo said during the meeting before Noble was elected. “I will say that I’m at the Legislature constantly. I’m at public events constantly. I’m a very positive public figure for the district, and I would hope that you don’t let your emotional feelings towards me get in the way of my service.”

In recent months, board politics had been marked by Carrillo’s decaying relationship with García. The two publicly jousted during a 2018 board meeting, and in August, Carrillo publicly vowed to hold García accountable for disappointing standardized test results.

“Former President Carrillo is very passionate. He really cares about the students and staff of Santa Fe Public Schools and has very strong opinions about that,” García said in an interview last week.

“Even though at times it might have been difficult, I enjoy working with him,” added García, a former Public Education Department secretary who is in her second run as superintendent. “It will be interesting to see what Kate Noble brings to the position.”

Carrillo, who represents the city’s northeast side from District 1, said he is waiting until the summer to decide about running for re-election in November.

The school board — which in June approved a contract extension for García through June 30, 2020 — elects a new president in a year. Noble will lead the five-member board’s discussions on policy.

And it’s clear Noble is solidly in García’s corner.

“I am a big fan of Veronica,” Noble said. “In my experience, she is someone who is both open to new ideas and has a lot of the knowledge of best proven practices.”

Noble, who won election to the board two years ago from north-side District 3, said she would run the board’s business in a different way from her predecessor.

“The job of the president of the board is to speak less and facilitate more so that voices are heard and the meeting is run effectively and efficiently,” Noble said. “It’s not to be the loudest voice in the room.”

Noble said she would rely on her background in city government and as a mayoral candidate to help expand community involvement in the district, which also faces funding challenges from declining enrollment.

“I would love to transition as many people as possible from sideline critique to active supporter of the public schools,” said Noble, a graduate of Santa Fe High School.

“Some people might have 20 hours a week,” she added. “Some might have one. Some might want to do it from a computer at home and some might want to be face-to-face with children. I want to diversify our volunteer opportunities to accommodate the wide range of intellectual talent here that cares about education.”