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Santa Fe Public Schools Open Childcare Center For Employees

Erza Alire cuts the ribbon on the new Early Childhood Center while district officials watch.
Kevin Meerschaert
Erza Alire cuts the ribbon on the new Early Childhood Center while district officials watch.

Employees in the Santa Fe Public School District now have a place to drop off their young children when they're at work. The district cut the ribbon Wednesday on its new Early Childhood Center.

The center at Ramirez Thomas Elementary School has long been a goal of the district which provides both early childhood learning, and relief for employees who have young children so they know they’ll have a safe and nurturing place to stay.

A survey conducted by teachers union NEA-Santa Fe showed child care was the greatest need in the district.

Superintendent Larry Chavez says it was a collaborative effort to get the project off the ground and realized.

“It’s something that does a few things for us. It helps recruit and it helps retain employees,” he said. “Those were key initiatives for us to move into this new school year. The other piece is, it makes you enjoy working for the district. You are happy about being part of the district and if you’re happy, if you enjoy coming to work the outcome for our students is going to improve.”                 

NEA-Senta Fe President Grace Mayer says the center will be a great service for teachers, some of whom in the past have had to quit their jobs to take care of their kids because other childcare options weren’t available or affordable.

“It is an understatement to say that stress on public school employees increased significantly during the pandemic,“ she said. “Add to that the almost unbearable fear and anxiety of our staff regarding the health and care of their own children and we get an unstable situation where the SFPS adult community must choose between their jobs and their family well-being.”   

The center opened on Monday but will be functioning fully beginning Thursday when teachers return to school ahead of the beginning of the new school year on Wednesday.

The center will begin with 44 spots for kids one to three years old.  The cost ranges from $150 to $250 a month based on the employee’s position.

Chavez says they are hoping to be able expand employee child care in the future.