Our Schools: Gutierrez To Take Care Of Unfinished Business

by Staff Reporter / Jun 16, 2017 / comments
Newly rehired Superintended immediately jumped into the job, arriving at District offices the morning after the Board voted to offer her the position. On Thursday, she was attending community leadership roundtable, where she spoke with LANL Director Charlie McMillan, County Commissioners, State legislators and many other local leaders. Valley Daily Post photo

Our Schools: Gutierrez To Take Care Of “Unfinished Business.”

By George Morse

As has been previously reported HERE, former Espanola Public Schools Superintendent Bobbi Gutierrez has been returned to her position after the Espanola School Board voted 4-1 Monday to offer her a two-year contract. The day after the School Board voted, Gutierrez was in the school district offices to begin to get ready for the new school year. Gutierrez will serve as Acting Superintendent until June 30 and will become Superintendent July 1, pending approval of her contract by the State Public Education Department (PED).

As readers may remember, Gutierrez served as Acting Superintendent in April 2015 and was hired as Superintendent later that year. She was praised for the job she was doing, addressing the issues of at-risk students and low graduation rates at Espanola. In March of 2016, she fired Espanola boys basketball Coach Richard Martinez, in part because of allegedly abusive and intimidating treatment of players and students. Coach Martinez had just guided Espanola to the Class 5A state basketball championship.

“Being a Superintendent is a hard job,” Gutierrez said. “You have to make decisions that not everyone understands.”

Gutierrez was forced into resigning her position in April 2016 after the firing of Coach Martinez. Without advertising the position, the then-School Board voted to hire Eric Martinez (no relation to Coach Martinez) as Superintendent. Miguel Medina, then boys football coach at Espanola, resigned in protest of Gutierrez’s removal. Many teachers also left the district in response to Gutierrez’s resignation.

After a Board election in Nov. 2016 replaced two Board members who had supported Superintendent Martinez and the takeover of the Espanola School District’s finances by the PED, Superintendent Martinez resigned in April, 2017, receiving a one-year salary of $130,000, creating the vacancy that Gutierrez now will fill.

Coach Martinez had his teaching license suspended for one year and his coaching license suspended indefinitely May 8, 2017 by the PED.

After advertising for applicants for the Superintendent’s position, the Board narrowed the field down to three candidates - Gutierrez, Art Blea and Robert Stannard.  Following a community forum with the three candidates participating, the Board voted 3-2 June 9 to name Gutierrez as the finalist for the position.

“She’s a proven leader,” Board President Ruben Archuleta said. “With her knowledge and experience of the district, she could hit the ground running.”

Archuleta stated the Gutierrez stated she had “Unfinished business to do” and wanted to “Finish what I started” during her interview.

After the Monday Board meeting where Gutierrez was offered her two-year contract, Board Member Yolanda Salazar expressed her pleasure at Gutierrez’s return.

“I was thrilled when I found out she had applied for the position,” Salazar said. “When she was working with us two years ago, morale at the high school, in the entire district was high. I look forward to her taking over and moving us forward in a positive way.”

Gutierrez hopes to continue the work she started and to forming a relationship with the new administration at Northern New Mexico College to establish programs for the students at the high school. Northern has a new leader in President Dr. Richard C. Bailey.

“I have been hearing wonderful things about him,” Gutierrez said.

As previously reported HERE, Northern received a grant of $1.28 million to establish an Upward Bound Program that will help at least 60 eligible students from Espanola Valley High School who encounter challenges that impede their opportunity for postsecondary education.

Gutierrez (seen from behind) spent Thursday morning talking with local leaders, including LANL Director Charlie McMillan about possible partnerships with Espanola Schools. Valley Daily Post photo

Gutierrez said she had not planned on staying at Espanola when she was initially hired in April 2015 as an interim Superintendent.

“I fell in love with Espanola,” Gutierrez said. “We have great kids here in Espanola. It was hard to leave. Now, we can continue the work we started.”