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Luna charter school nixed by state

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By Don Pace

After hearing opposition from area superintendents recently, the state Public Education Commission denied an application for the proposed Luna Charter Academy.  

Luna was among eight proposed charter schools that did not pass muster during a meeting last week.The commission did approve seven charter schools that included four in Albuquerque and one each in Rio Rancho, Santa Fe and Taos.

Earlier this month the Public Education Commission held a public hearing in Las Vegas and got an earful of opposition from area superintendents, including West Las Vegas Superintendent Jim Abueu and Las Vegas City Schools Superintendent Rick Romero.

Most of the opposition came from those who worried a new charter school in the area would affect their enrollment.

Cimarron Superintendent James Gallegos said that even though the proposed charter school would be set up in Las Vegas, it would affect other districts as well.

Dora Romero, Mora’s superintendent, said she shared many of the concerns of the other superintendents. She said that while this may be a noble effort, it will impact her enrollment and limited financial resources.

There was also anger about the lack of dialogue between Luna Community College officials and the school districts during the planning stages of the proposed charter school.  

After the commission vote to deny the Las Vegas charter application, Abreu and Romero each had something to say. Abreu called it a good idea that needs to be rethought.

“I think the Luna Charter School was a good idea, the concept was a good concept, but the only difficulty there was that we (area school districts) were concerned that it would affect our enrollment. If they ever wanted to do this again they should narrow the focus, so there would be less of an inpact on the school districts in this area. If they did that, it might be a good idea,” Abreu said.

Romero said, “I really believe that the response from the area superintendents would not have been as great had the advocates for the Luna Academy been more open and willing to meet with us, and discuss the charter, so that we could all have a better understanding about what role that charter was going to play and what impact it would have on our schools. A lot of our message was frustration that, as the leaders of the surrounding school districts, that we were simply not afforded the respect and cordiality of coming to the table and talking to us, listening to us, and being partners in this process.”  

Attempts to reach Luna Community College President Pete Campos for comment were unsuccessful. However, during an earlier conversation on the topic, the president told the Optic that he would continue to fight for the new charter school.