Leo Marquez. Valley Daily Post photo
Leo Marquez Says We Need To Work Together To Rebuild Our Schools
Leo Marquez comes from a family of educators, some who are still teaching in the Espanola district. But Marquez says the past year has been painful for him to see what has been happening to our schools. Now a candidate for Position 2 on the Espanola Public School District Board, Marquez has a chance to share his concerns and his vision for setting things right.
“Our education system is a pillar of the community. But it has fallen” Marquez said, adding, “When the educational pillar fell, it shook the ground of the community. “
In November 2016 Espanola Public Schools lost control of its finances when the State’s Public Education Department (PED) seized control of all financial management, citing district mismanagement.
Marquez says that a failure in leadership and shortsighted decisions led to the district losing credibility and control of its own finances. Marquez says he has listened to the Superintendent, he has listened to the other candidates and board members, but little of what they say is important until the district deals with its dysfunction.
“We need to work with PED, work with the state and not fight them at every turn if we are ever going to get control of our schools back again.” Said Marquez. His goals, if elected are to try to regain the confidence of the people by getting the Board to work together, to work with the State PED, to regain control of the district and begin on longer-term goals on rebuilding the district.
Marquez believes his experience makes him a good choice for helping the district to recover. An EVHS graduate (class of 1981) Marquez is currently the Chief Financial Officer for the New Mexico State Treasurer, administering a $3 million budget and a $4 billion investment fund for the State. He also currently serves on the Carinos Charter School Board of Directors, as well as on the Board of Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the Board of HELP NM Community Service Block Grant. He is also the former Rio Arriba County Deputy Treasurer.
An immediate problem Marquez sees includes the 13 vacancies in teaching positions. “How can we attract teachers when we have revolving door of superintendents. “ said Marquez. Marquez cited findings that Espanola schools salaries for teachers rank 113 in New Mexico and how the low salaries make it hard to keep teachers here. He also spoke of partnering with Northern New Mexico College’s teacher training program to bring local residents in to teach at Espanola.
Marquez also cited transparency as key for regaining the trust of the public, saying the District receives over $8,000 per student. “Community members deserve to have answers for how the money they are paying into public education is spent. Where are my tax dollars going?” said Marquez.
Marquez also cites the need for the entire community to revisit the District’s strategic plan and update it. “It is a roadmap for where we want to go, and who knows when we last actually looked at it” said Marquez.
This is not Marquez’s first run at office. Four years ago he ran for the same position but came up short against then candidate Annabelle Almager, who chose not to run for reelection. This time he is facing Patrick Herrera in next Tuesday’s election.
In the end Marquez tells voters that the district’s problems cannot be solved by one person alone. “This board is 5 people strong. It takes all 5 people. we need all have the same vision. If elected I hope to be a uniting voice on that board”