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Posted February 7, 2017

Why We're Still Building Schools

Supt. Reedy explains why APS is breaking ground on new schools and renovating others during a budget crisis.

Groundbreaking at La Cueva HS

We broke ground on a brand new school last week, and we dug our ceremonial shovels into the dirt for another just a couple of days ago. 

On Feb. 6, I joined students and staff at La Cueva High School to celebrate the building of an intensive support wing for students with special needs. The school’s athletic facilities also are getting an upgrade.

This is your tax dollars at work. This is a promise kept. I assure you this is not poor budgeting as the district faces a mid-year financial crisis.  

The fact is money for running the district comes from a different pot than funding for new construction and renovation of schools. It’s capital vs. operational. One is paid through local property taxes, the other through the state.

I get why some of you have suggested that we stop building new schools to help cover more than $25 million in cuts to the APS budget this school year. I don’t like the idea of cutting school supplies or possibly employee paychecks, either. That we have even considered shutting down the district to help cover this shortfall keeps me up at night. Maybe you, too.

But using capital funds to cover day-to-day operations just is not an option.

We are committed to the projects voters overwhelmingly approved in recent bond and mill levy elections because they will help alleviate crowding, modernize aging facilities, improve learning environments and safety and technology.

These are projects like the new K-8 elementary school in northwest Albuquerque near Nusenda Community Stadium. This as-yet named school is scheduled to open in fall 2018. It will be designed similarly to George I. Sanchez Collaborative Community School to move beyond traditional isolated classrooms toward small collaborative learning environments that encourage mentorship and community between grade levels.

What a great place for students to learn, for teachers to teach. And it will help relieve neighboring elementary and middle schools that are bursting at the seams.

And then there’s the new wing for the Intensive Support Program at La Cueva that is especially near to my heart. The first ISP program in APS opened at Atrisco Elementary when I was a special education teacher there, and I know how valuable these programs are. The new wing will include specialized classrooms including one for life skills and others for sensory, occupational and physical therapy. It will also have an outdoor learning area. I love that our community embraces all of our students, providing them with the best environments to learn and thrive.

Upgrading athletic facilities at La Cueva is important, too, because we know that students who are engaged in co- and extracurricular activities very often do better in school, not to mention the health benefits of having a new weight room, multi-purpose PE space and locker rooms.

Next week, we’ll break ground on a Westside family school that will combine classroom and home-based instruction, another school choice for our students and families.

These projects and others like them will help us to continue providing the best educational opportunities for all of our students.

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