SFPS welcomed U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona and U.S. Senator Ben Ray Lujan to Santa Fe High School (SFHS) today for a mental health roundtable. SFHS’ advancing community school initiative, underway with NEA New Mexico, and its site decisions regarding use of federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) funding were featured during the visit.
“What an honor it was to welcome such esteemed leaders to our campus! Secretary Dr. Cardona and Senator Lujan shined a critical national spotlight on the issues school communities face as they recover from the pandemic. As SFPS strives to leave no stone unturned to meet student and staff needs for social and emotional support, it is clear that we are not alone on this journey,” said Superintendent Hilario “Larry” Chavez.
Through the Office of Student Wellness, SFPS’ counseling program seeks to improve outcomes and build connections and relationships with students in grades K-12. Setting SFPS apart from other districts are school-based health services, serving about 500 students, and the districtwide restorative justice program. SFPS’ teen health centers at SFHS and Capital High School, operated by Presbyterian Medical Services, provide counseling services and primary health care.
SFHS began implementing its community schools initiative in 2019 with funding from the NM Public Education Department. One of the four pillars is integrated student supports like mental and physical health services. In addition, SFPS has set aside $20 million in ESSER funds over the next three years for schools to address learning loss and accelerate learning, with SFHS investing in tutoring and credit recovery, class size reduction and other efforts.
“The discussion from today’s roundtable was rich and from the heart. I greatly appreciate Secretary Dr. Cardona and Senator Lujan taking such an interest in our work. We are encouraged that we are on the right path for uplifting students and meeting their needs,” he said.