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Breaking Away

July 23, 2014, 12:00 am

One of Santa Fe’s public charter schools wants to break ties with the local school district.

On July 17, the governing board of Turquoise Trail Charter School, which serves 525 students from the preschool level through sixth grade, unanimously voted to apply to the state as an independent charter school. The school has been a part of Santa Fe Public Schools since it was founded as a traditional public school in 1990. In 1994, Turquoise Trail became a charter school.

Head Administrator and Principal Ray Griffin compares the move of leaving the school district to an 18-year-old artist moving from a small town to New York City.

“We’ve matured as an institution, and we really feel confident that we have the talent to run the school,” he says, adding that becoming independent means Turquoise Trail will have more autonomy in its decision-making and less bureaucracy to work through.

For example, an independent Turquoise Trail could decide to switch to four-day weeks or six-day weeks without interference from the school district, though Griffin says it has no plans to do so. He adds that the decision to split wasn’t prompted by disagreement with the school district, but that it’s the goal of most charter schools.

“We are not a system,” he says. “We are a community.”

Turquoise Trail will still be a part of SFPS for at least one more year. The school’s application to be an independent charter will be weighed by the Public Education Commission, which decides whether to accept it or not. Two of Santa Fe’s six charter schools—New Mexico School for the Arts and The MASTERS Program—are currently independent from the district.


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