The Numbers that Matter Most
In her weekly message to employees, Superintendent Reedy addresses the budget crisis.
85,000 students. 12,000 employees. 141 schools. Graduation rates, proficiency rates, poverty rates.
It seems like we spend a lot of time in public education talking numbers. The latest are budgetary – a $12.5 million mid-year reduction for Albuquerque Public Schools that was just approved by state lawmakers (but hasn't been signed by the governor), following a $12.6 million cut approved during a special session of the Legislature.
That’s a lot of money. Those are very big numbers.
While part of my job requires dealing with those numbers, I prefer much smaller ones. Like 400 – the number of students in the elementary school where I once was principal. Like 24 – the average number of students in certain classes. Like 4 – the number of students in reading groups or working on projects together.
Like one – the student in that reading group, classroom and school whose life is made better because of the work we do.
I put faces on those numbers. Faces like Bella’s, a sweet, awkward sixth grader at one of our poorest middle schools who is always smiling, always surrounded by friends. If you’re new to the school, expect a warm welcome by this tiny, big-eyed girl who wears the same pair of pants, the same pair of shoes, the same worn jacket on most days. Still very innocent (she carries stuffed animals around in her backpack), Bella embraces learning. She’s curious. She likes to be challenged. She wants to know more.
That’s the number that counts. The one who needs us. The one who is depending on us to continue doing our job despite the state’s dire economic situation, despite the budgetary cuts, despite the dreary financial forecast.
There are other faces I see, too. Those of our employees. Of you. Hard workers who dedicate their lives to educating children, but still have to pay the bills and support their own families. I think about the first-year teachers, the educational assistants, the custodians, secretaries, cafeteria workers, bus drivers who struggle to get by, who now may be taking home a smaller paycheck due to those very big numbers.
It pains me to have to ask more of you, yet that’s what I’m doing. Despite the state’s – the district’s – budgetary woes, we still need to stay focused. I’m still committed to the five priorities I outlined in last week’s message: early learning, college and career readiness, emphasis on the whole child, attendance, family and community engagement. I hope you are, too. We owe it to our students. They deserve a future of opportunity for happiness and success.
No decisions have been made on how we're going to address our budget situation, and I promise we will keep you in the loop. We’ll work to minimize the impact on your workplace as well as your pocketbook. Thank you more than ever for all you do. You truly are appreciated.