LAS CRUCES – Two newcomers are running for the open seat of the education committee of Las Cruces Public Schools in District 3 after Maria Flores, who has been on the board since 2009, decided not to run.
The IT specialist Eloy Francisco Macha and the former teacher Robert Wofford face each other over the position.
LCPS District 3 serves the east side of the city, including Hillrise Elementary, University Hills Elementary, Arrowhead Park Early College High School, and the Medical Academy and Centennial High.
The Doña Ana County Early Voting begins Tuesday, October 5th. Election day on November 2nd.
This year there are three seats on the LCPS school board to choose from: District 1, District 2, and District 3.
Meet the other candidates:
Eloy Francisco Macha
Macha, 47, has lived in Las Cruces since 2016 and has now decided to run for office, which he originally did not intend to do until the birth of his granddaughter in April.
Macha was born in Peru in the southern city of Moquegua. When he was 6, his family moved to Sonora, Mexico because of his father’s engineering job and shortly afterwards they moved to Douglas, Arizona, where Macha attended private school. Macha’s father’s career took her to Utah again in 1988, where Macha completed his elementary education at a public school.
Macha followed in his father’s footsteps and studied engineering at New Mexico State University, where he first lived in Las Cruces. He completed his bachelor’s degree in 1997 while he and his wife reconciled life with their newborn daughter.
Macha has been a technologist for 25 years, focusing on advanced research and development in Albuquerque and parts of Texas.
When Macha’s granddaughter was born, he began researching schools in New Mexico. He said he didn’t like what he found.
“You are starting to find out some interesting information,” said Macha. “‘Oh my god, we’re number 50. Wait a minute. Did I miss it in the brochure?” So you learn more, and the more you learn, the more you wonder what happened (to public education)? “
Macha said he had researched that there had been an increase in remedial classes. He hopes to create more opportunities for hands-on, hands-on courses that can lead students into careers and prepare them for life. He said Arrowhead Park Early College High and the Medical Academy are a great example of what he wants to see across the district.
In addition to helping students prepare for their careers, Macha also wants to offer teachers more professional development opportunities to encourage them to continue in their careers.
“If I can have this positive influence on the classroom to prepare students for their future, it would be great,” Macha said. “Regardless of what happens in November, this vision that is forming in my head, I want it to come true.”
Macha also suggested holding regular town halls to welcome parents and parishioners.
He said he would like more board meetings to take place in school gyms and cafeterias instead of the boardroom.
“I have the impression that even here in Las Cruces there is a mismatch with all of the recent guidelines,” said Macha. “Some schools have more than others. When you go down, some of the programs have more than others.”
He said feedback will make the board accountable.
Macha proposed that a two-, five-, and ten-year plan be put in place to help with this accountability and transparency.
“What is the goal at the end of the day? The goal is our students’ success and making sure we are ahead,” said Macha.
Wofford, 61, taught English at Las Cruces High School for 34 years. After retiring in 2017, he is ready to return to the world of education through a candidacy.
Wofford was born and raised in Las Cruces. As a young student, he attended Valley View Elementary, Zia Middle, and Las Cruces High. He completed a college education in his hometown at NMSU, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in English Education and his master’s degree in English.
In addition to teaching English, for the last five years of his teaching career, Wofford has acted as an agent for continuing education services, mentoring a large number of students and focusing more on career counseling.
After two years of retirement, Woofford said he was ready to get back into training, but then the COVID-19 pandemic began. He said Flores’ decision to stop running was the perfect opportunity to get back into training as a member of the school board.
He added that Flores did a good job as a board member. Wofford has been an active participant in board meetings and said he has spoken to board members over the years since the 1980s.
“Educators need a voice,” said Wofford. “The key to success is having a classroom where an educator connects with the students. This personal, personal connection motivates children to be there to learn. Children not only come as empty vessels that we fill up, but with full and complete lives that we must address. “
Wofford aims to empower teachers by promoting smaller classes, better salaries, and bonus payments to alleviate the teacher shortage that Las Cruces and New Mexico are facing.
While teaching at LCHS, Woofford learned the value of parenting, which he believes is key to student success.
He also knows that budget review is a huge part of the job of a school board. Wofford was on the LCPS budget committee years ago. He said if there are budget cuts they need to be kept as far away from the classroom as possible.
Woofford said he was impressed with the district’s community schools, especially during the pandemic.
“A year in a teenager or child’s life seems like an eternity,” said Wofford. “You can’t teach a hungry child very effectively. Even one that needs medical care cannot be taught. Then, when they come from families who also need these services, it is only a logical extension to make the school a community center for our community rather than just a place for students.
“It all comes back to creating opportunities for students to be successful.”
In the end, the biggest problem for Wofford is the pandemic and its impact on students.
“The main thing right now is to address the learning gap and problems the children have had socially, emotionally and absolutely academically with COVID,” said Wofford. “Every child deserves a right to a challenging curriculum. We have to be absolutely caring as teachers, but we have to challenge the children and help them see what can happen to their lives. “
After retiring from the classroom, Woofford advises on Advanced Placement English and is employed part-time with the National Math and Science Initiative.
Wofford would be the first open LGBTQ + member on the LCPS Board of Education if elected.
Miranda Cyr, a member of the Report for America corps, can be reached at [email protected] or @mirandabcyr on Twitter. Show your support for the Report for America program at https://bit.ly/LCSNRFA.