At 80-years-old, Ron Singleton said he wants to relax after helping guide the Carlsbad Municipal School District through the COVID-19 pandemic.
As an outgoing member of the Carlsbad Schools Board of Education, Singleton said he still worries about the future of Carlsbad’s children, but was confident in the leadership of the newest board members.
After serving 14 years on the School Board, Singleton declined to seek re-election to the Ward 3 seat. He will be replaced by Tiffany Shirley, who ran unopposed in the November 2021 election for the position.
“With as much brainpower as I got left, I don’t think I need to be trying to tax it,” Singleton said about stepping down from the leadership role.
He was elected to the District 3 seat of the Board of Education first in 2008. He sought and won re-election in 2013 and in 2017.
Singleton said his time on the school board was filled with great moments, but pointed to the board’s role in improving the district’s schools and facilities as his greatest accomplishment.
“It was time for us to get our kids in new schools with newer facilities and bigger classrooms,” Singleton said.
In 2016 the district completed the construction of Desert Willow and Ocotillo elementary schools. The construction was funded by a $60 million general obligation bond passed in 2013 the results of a record number of voters participating in a local election.
Those funds also contributed to the construction of a performing arts center and sports fieldhouse at Carlsbad High School.
Singleton said the district’s facilities were old and outdated – challenged by a growing student population, the need for internet and telecommunication infrastructure and the high cost of maintaining aging facilities, some built as early as 1927.
“Ron’s basically given a lifetime to Carlsbad Municipal Schools,” said CMS Superintendent Dr. Gerry Washburn. “He’s touched a lot of lives in the community, he’s given tirelessly.
“The school district and the community owe him a debt of gratitude for everything he’s done and his dedication to Carlsbad.”
In 2020 the New Mexico School Board Association inducted Singleton into its Hall of Fame. Singleton served as the N.M. School Board Association president in 2015 and in numerous other member and board roles.
While on the board Singleton showed a commitment to listening to the public – even leaving a remote school board meeting to meet with parents about their concerns over COVID-19 policies.
Singleton said communicating with the public and students was essential while seeking reelection in 2017 and pushed the board to get input from the public on plans for the new schools.
A Hall of Fame coach
Prior to his time on the Board of Education, Singleton taught Carlsbad’s children for over 40 years. Singleton worked for Carlsbad Municipal Schools (CMS) as an educator and coach from 1965 to 2008, when he retired.
In 2014 Singleton was recognized by the New Mexico Track and Cross Country Coaches Association as a Hall of Fame Heritage Coach.
Washburn said Singleton has taught and coached countless students in Carlsbad.
“I’ve yet to meet someone that graduated from Carlsbad High School, up to Ron coming on the board, that hadn’t been taught by him,” Washburn said.
He and his wife of 39 years, Martha Singleton, who was also an educator in Carlsbad schools, have four children and nine grandchildren.
Claudia Silva is a reporter from the UNM Local Reporting Fellowship. She can be reached at [email protected], by phone at 575-628-5506 or on Twitter @thewatchpup.