Toddler playing in play kitchen

In a first for SFPS, the district will open the high-quality, low-cost SFPS Early Childhood Center to serve employees’ children, ages 12 months to three years, as a pilot in the 2022-23 school year.  “This much-needed milestone provides SFPS employees with an exceptional option for their young children, extends their paychecks and is an expression of our gratitude for all they do,” said SFPS Superintendent Hilario “Larry” Chavez.

The SFPS Early Childhood Center, which will open on August 11th when teachers return from summer break, will be housed in a dedicated early childhood wing at Ramirez Thomas Elementary School, located at 3200 Calle Po Ae Pi, operating daily from 7:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in alignment with SFPS’ school-year calendar for teachers.  

“We anticipate a robust response from employees regarding this opportunity to help prepare their young children for future learning while mitigating the high cost of raising a family in Santa Fe,” said Superintendent Chavez.  “This pilot year sets the stage for exploring the center’s growth potential, including the possibility of developing an early childhood training component for staff.”

Grace Mayer, NEA-Santa Fe president, said, “NEA-Santa Fe is enthusiastic that in collaboration with SFPS, we have developed a plan that provides accessible, high-quality childcare for educators’ children. We anticipate this program will assist with employee retention and demonstrates a firm commitment to staff that they are valued and deserve an elevated quality of life for them and their families.”

Of the 44 seats available, 70 percent will be offered to teachers and 30 percent will be offered to other staff.  Monthly costs will range from $150 per child for educational support professionals to $250 for teachers, administrators or district staff.  

Supporting the center will be Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding and a state subsidy for licensed childcare providers.

Dr. Patricia Azuara, SFPS’ early childhood director, said, “I am excited about the Early Childhood Center initiative, which responds to staff needs for affordable, high-quality services.  Knowing their children are engaged in meaningful experiences in a caring and joyful environment will provide peace of mind while they are at work .”

SFPS will operate as a licensed provider by the NM Early Childhood Education and Care Department.  Twelve of the 44 seats will be available for 12-month-old children, 16 will be available for two-year-olds and 16 will be available for three-year-olds.

Students will be selected for the center through a lottery.  Applications will be accepted from April 8th to May 2nd.  The lottery and selections will be announced on May 4th.   Applications for slots will be ongoing.