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News from the Superintendent: August 12, 2008
August 11, 2008
Dear APS Community Member,
Welcome back for the start of the 2008-2009 school year! I hope you had a fun and restful summer and, like me, can’t wait to get started. I just returned from seeing my daughter get married in Wichita. It seems like just yesterday my wife and I took her to kindergarten. The first day of school always reminds me how quickly the years have passed, but also how much we have to look forward to. Today is a big day for those of you who haven’t already started classes.
We have several new schools coming online this year and I would like to offer them my best wishes. Atrisco Heritage Academy, Helen Cordero and Sunset View and Tierra Antigua elementaries all start in temporary quarters, but will open brand new buildings in the coming months. Volcano Vista opens its doors to sophomores and juniors as more of its new building is completed. These new schools and their tremendous new staffs will reflect well on their communities. The APS Facilities Design and Construction team deserves a great deal of credit for their work on these buildings. All told, the district is opening 122 new classrooms for the fall semester, thanks to the support of voters in the Albuquerque community.
Speaking of Atrisco, I want to thank Bernalillo County and the County Commission for accommodating our newest high school for the next couple of months. Providing the old county courthouse for classroom space—rent-free—is an incredibly generous act. We are most grateful for their support of APS. I’m proud of the students, parents and staff of Atrisco for adjusting seamlessly to this unexpected change of venue and going with the flow. The wait for the new building will be worth it, I assure you.
Principals have heard me talk about the goals I would like to accomplish this year. In all, I have outlined eight goals and presented them to the Board of Education last week. I won’t go into them now, but I will describe them in detail over the coming weeks. Suffice it to say, you and the rest of the Albuquerque community are the stakeholders, and I will value your input.
Last week, I had the pleasure of touring schools in the South Valley with several elected officials and members of the APS leadership team. It was the first of a series of bus tours that will take us to the seven Board of Education districts. We had a pleasant, productive town hall meeting with the District 1 community at noontime, and I look forward next to visiting District 2 on the West Side on Aug. 28. Please watch the APS website in August and September for schedules for each tour. Parents and staff are invited to the town hall gatherings.
The Board also approved the new benefits package for 2008-09 at last week’s meeting. I sent a message to all employees that explained the package. While we recognize that an additional expense is difficult to swallow when the cost of everything is going up, employees will see a seven percent increase rather than the full 13.6 percent increase the insurance carrier is charging the district. Please know that the benefits office negotiated the best deal it could, and the Board did what it could to minimize the cost to employees.
Finally, I would like to congratulate and welcome the many principals, teachers, staff and students who are either new to APS or find themselves at new schools this year. Good luck in your new locations.
I look forward to sharing more with you through these messages each week. Have a great first week of school.
Winston Brooks, Superintendent
Albuquerque Public Schools