Garley appointed to Belen Board of Ed

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The Belen Board of Education selected a new member to fill the seat left vacant after long-time school board member Adrian Pino resigned last month.

Board members voted unanimously to appoint retired educator Larry Garley to fill the District 5 seat at the board’s regular meeting Tuesday night.

Larry Garley Appointed to school board

Garley, who lost the District 5 seat to Pino by six votes during the February 2013 school board elections, said he sees the appointment as an opportunity to help the school district move forward.

“Most people think that teachers quit at the end of the day, but they don’t. It’s a lot of hard work,” Garley said. “So as a school board member, I have the chance of helping them and supporting them in any way I can.”

After two rounds of voting, the 37-year classroom veteran edged out candidates LaRee Baca and Jackie Farnsworth for the position. The first round of voting ended in a tie between Garley and Baca.

Baca, who applied for the position to promote programs that encourage students to remain in school, said depending on what happens in the next year, she may consider running for the seat in the next election.

On the other hand, Farnsworth, who held the position for eight years prior, said she applied for the position to help the board get up and running after Pino’s resignation.

Voters originally elected Pino to the board more than a decade ago to the seat representing the Los Chavez area, formerly held by Farnsworth.

During that election, Farnsworth chose not to seek re-election.

Board President Sam Chavez polled each board member after the first round of voting.

Board members Lorraine Espinoza and Larry Lindberg said they supported Garley because of his long history as an educator and his commitment to reducing the district’s drop-out rate.

Garley took his seat on the board and proceeded to conduct board business, following a brief swearing-in ceremony conducted by Belen Municipal Judge Kathy Savilla.

Once the new member was seated, the board immediately started reorganizing to fill key positions vacated by Pino’s resignation. The board unanimously approved Lindberg to serve as the board’s new vice president.

Chavez completed the reorganization process by appointing Lindberg to the construction committee and Garley to the finance committee.

Chavez expressed a sense of urgency to complete the selection process during Tuesday’s board meeting or run the risk of having state education officials appoint a new board member to fill the seat.

New Mexico law gives a school boards up to 45 days to fill a vacated seat.

“If we fail to make a decision tonight the alternative is that PED selects our board member for us,” Chavez said.

Garley, 63, who grew up in Albuquerque and moved to the area as an adolescent, graduated from Belen High School in 1968.

After high school, Garley, went on to earn a bachelor’s of arts in degree in 1972 from Western New Mexico University, the former New Mexico teachers’ college.

“I decided to be a teacher in the 10th grade and I wanted to be a coach,” Garley told board members during a school board vacancy workshop Monday, Dec. 9.

That is exactly what he did.

After college, Garley would go on to spend the next 35 years working in the Belen school district as a teacher and coach.

Garley was a Belen High School football coach for 11 years, a BHS and Belen Middle School basketball coach for 8 years, spent 29 years as the boys and girls golf coach and served two years as the district’s athletic coordinator.

In addition to his 35 years mentoring students in Belen Schools, Garley spent two years teaching in Las Vegas, Nev.

He is also the owner and instructor of Garley’s School of Driving, and has been the driver education instructor at Belen High School for 24 years.

“My entire career has been in the interest of education our students,” Garley said.

Garley is a father of two, and he has two grandchildren.

“There is no more important resource for the future of our community, our state and our country, than our students. Therefore, the education of our students must be our first priority,” Garley wrote in the statement of interest he presented to the school board.

During the workshop, each board candidate was given 30 minutes to answer 10 questions from sitting board members. The questions ranged from why candidates felt they were best for the job to what is the primary role of a school board member.

Garley will fill the position until the next regular school board elections in 2015.