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“What’s the new world as far as how we prepare our students?” said Eloy Francisco Macha, who is making his first bid for elective office as a candidate for the District 3 seat on the Las Cruces Public Schools Board of Education. Maria Flores, who has held the seat since 2009, will not run for a fourth four-year-term on the board.
Members of the school board are “stewards of the community,” Macha said, and must guide district policy to help students adapt to the changes that have occurred since the onset of the pandemic so they are prepared for success, and to ensure that limited resources available for public education are being wisely spent.
Macha, whose campaign slogan is “Your voice for our schools,” said he also is concerned that current school board members are not listening to their constituents to determine what is best for Las Cruces schools.
Changing the name of Oñate High School to Organ Mountain High is one example of the board taking action contrary to parents’ wishes, he said. Like that name change, Macha said the board’s recent adoption of Policy JBC: Equity and Excellence for All Students, also could lead to the allocation of limited resources that would be better spent elsewhere. (The policy states LCPS’ “commitment to correct the inequitable experiences and negative stereotypes of historically under-represented, underserved, and marginalized student populations, cultures, and languages.”)
And, Macha said, deciding how best to deal with health issues like Covid-19 should be driven more by local needs than by state mandates.
While the New Mexico Public Education Department “provides a lot of good framework to ensure the success of our students,” the implementation of state policies should be “Las Cruces specific,” Macha said.
“Does the school board represent the local community or Santa Fe?” he said.
And, while the LCPS graduation rate has increased, the school board should be held accountable for student proficiency levels, which Macha said have been declining for past 12 years.
Macha, 47, has worked in the technology field for the past 25 years and is an enterprise adviser for NMSU’s Arrowhead Center.
As a school board member, Macha said he would like to share his knowledge and experience with technology and entrepreneurship to motivate students to “be successful in their own way” and pursue their individual passions.
“The one-size fits all mentality needs to go away,” he said.
Macha said his vision for LCPS also includes creating internships with local businesses for middle- and high-school students, teaching students about financial literacy so they can navigate issues like student loans and credit-card debt, increasing emphasis on trade schools and other career pathways besides four years of college, and ensuring that all students “have the opportunities they need” and all teachers have “all the resources they need to be successful in the classroom.”
A native of Peru who came to the United States on a student visa in the early 1980s, Macha said he also would like to share his sense of pride in being an American with the district.
Macha has a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from New Mexico State University. He became a U.S. citizen in 2005. He and his wife, Sandra (who is serving as his campaign treasurer), and their two children moved back to Las Cruces in 2016.
If he is elected to the school board, Macha said his first action would be to take school board meetings out of the central office and hold them in Las Cruces middle schools and high schools. That is important for accountability and transparency and to “build trust with our community,” he said.
“All of us have a common goal,” Macha said. “We all want what’s best for our students.”
Macha said he is knocking on doors in his school board campaign, and making phone calls.
“I’ve had a lot of great conversations,” Macha said, adding that he has talked to a lot of LCPS parents and “has learned from them.”
Macha said he is hopeful his campaign will raise voter turnout in the Nov. 2 election.
“We have to fight the good fight,” he said. In running for school board, “there shouldn’t be any other motivation except ‘I love my community,” he said.
Contact Macha at 575-323-0213 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit macha4lcps.net.