Sonia Moya appointed to LL Board of Education

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Sonya C. Moya was named the newest member of the Los Lunas Board of Education by a unanimous vote last week.

Moya was one of two candidates, along with Otto King, who volunteered to serve as the representative of District 2 and finish the remaining year of former member Kelly Chavez’s term.

Sonya C. Moya New board member

Chavez reluctantly turned in her resignation in December due to being relocated to Ruidoso for her job with the New Mexico Department of Agriculture.

The next school board election is in 2015.

“I’m looking forward to working with (Sonya) and the energy and passion she brings,” said board secretary Sean Gibson. “I think we can always use more passion.”

Moya, who was sworn in on Tuesday night, said she is excited to get involved in education again.

“I’m extremely nervous and excited,” Moya said. “I want to congratulate Mr. King. I told my husband if I don’t get this position, I know it will be in good hands.”

King is a deputy with the Valencia County Sheriff Office and served in the military for several years. He and his wife, Soledad Garcia-King, have a son, Pablo, in Los Lunas Schools.

Moya is a graduate of both the University of New Mexico and Belen High School and works in the health care insurance industry.

She emphasized the importance of helping economically-disadvantaged and underprivileged students, and is pleased the district is putting Head Start programs on school campuses, “so that these children are aware of an educational setting and become members of that community.

“Having witnessed this on a first-hand basis, the older children take them in as part of the family,” Moya said.

Financial transparency and accountability to taxpayers are two more of Moya’s top priorities, she said.

She said the district needs to show where its funding is going and the results of spending.

“I think education should be considered one of the gross national products because there is such large funding in education,” Moya said. “The community and the business community want to know what they’re getting for that. All they see is in the media … test scores, test scores, test scores. It’s the prevailing focus, but what they are not seeing and what they are not choosing to read is the improvements that we’re seeing.”

She is also very concerned with Gov. Susana Martinez’s move to increase below-the-line education spending, which the administration can spend as it sees fit. Above-the-line education funds are calculated using a formula that divvies up the money across all public schools.

Experience in health care reform has given Moya an appreciation of the district’s challenges implementing the new Common Core State Standards, teacher evaluations and new tests mandated by the state.

“Common Core is here and it’s not going away,” Moya said. “Getting that out there to the teachers and explaining to the teachers how this is going to work, what the improvement is ― I’ll be quite frank, I think the New Mexico PED did a horrible job of rolling this out and getting the school systems and the educators to embrace them.

“The teachers have got to recognize this is not, shall we say, a ruler to slap their hands … but is more a measuring stick … you have to have a standard measure,” she said, “but I don’t appreciate these scores or these tests being used to say, ‘It’s you, Miss so-and-so teacher; you’re the one that failed these children.’”

She said teachers should be scored on factors within their control.

“I need to learn more about how they are being evaluated,” Moya said.

Before she can get a broader perspective, Moya said she needs to meet with teachers and principals to learn what they have been experiencing.

“They’re spending 10 to 12 percent of their educational days testing; what are we doing here?” Moya said. “What are we trying to accomplish here? As a member of the school board, I need to see what tests we are administrating, see if they are all vital, and how much they are taking away from teaching time.

“As I was researching more about core curriculum, PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers) testing and assessments, and starting to get down to the fundamentals of it ― actually reading through the core curriculums ― I can understand why a teacher who has been in the classroom six to 10 years, why they’re looking and going, ‘What do you expect out of me here, a miracle worker or what?’” she said.

“So, I want to see how that progresses,” Moya said. “I want to see where the testing goes, and I would like to be a little more involved in (the) New Mexico Public Education (Department), because I want to see what their goals are, and make sure their goals are aligned with what we’re doing.”

Moya’s husband, Jerry, is an educator and works in professional development at Belen Schools. They are the parents of son Jesse, a 2010 valedictorian graduate of Valencia High School.

“I think the board made a very good selection based on the interview and how the candidates performed,” said Los Lunas Superintendent Bernard Saiz.

“I’m looking forward to a good working relationship with our newest school board member.”


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.