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Posted January 19, 2010

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Legislative Affairs Update: January 19, 2010

The latest news from the 2010 Legislative Session in Santa Fe.

The Albuquerque Public Schools Government Affairs team is hard at work preparing for the 2010 New Mexico Legislative Session. We go into this session with full understanding of the difficult economic situation of the state and nation. However, APS is urging legislators to remember that the most important initiative of our time is public education.

On Monday, Superintendent Winston Brooks made a presentation to the Legislative Education Study Committee and today, he will be involved in the session’s opening ceremonies. Over the weekend the superintendent and the g a team participated in final committee hearings on the budget and educational policy discussions. It is important for you to know that the district is well represented and the superintendent and APS Board of Education plan to be very involved in the session.

We feel strongly that if we are going to work toward improving education in New Mexico that we have to stop the cuts to the education budget. We know that budget cuts have a strong impact on more organizations than just education. However, we feel education has an impact on the economy and society that is immeasurable. There has been a recommendation to cut school district employee salaries, and the district is adamantly opposed to this. Last year, employees had their paychecks cut by paying an additional 1.5 percent toward retirement. In addition, without any pay increase there was an increase in the cost of benefits. This caused APS employees to go home with less in their paycheck than they had in the past school year.

It is important to know that Albuquerque Public Schools has a strong plan to improve academic achievement, close the achievement gap and improve graduation rates.

We currently have more than 700 students enrolled in extended day classes in our high schools. These classes are designed as an early intervention for struggling students. We have also embarked on an ambitious program that will help get more students aiming for college in the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program. This college-readiness system is designed to increase the number of students who enroll in four-year colleges.

We are also committed to opening the Nex+gen Magnet School on the campus of Del Norte High School in fall 2010. This innovative program will allow students to take a project-based approach to learning in a high tech environment.

Reforms and improvements in education are not free. Each one of the above initiatives requires a sizeable amount of money to implement at every school in APS. The state of New Mexico and Albuquerque Public Schools demand excellence in education and need the proper funds to guarantee success. This is why it is imperative that education budgets not be cut.

On the website you can view the APS 2010 legislative agenda. We know that many of these items will not be germane, but we feel strongly that the policy issues surrounding the items need to be discussed. These policy issues are important to continuing academic achievement in APS and around New Mexico.

We are committed to working with the New Mexico Legislature during the 2010 Legislative Session. We thank the legislators and Gov. Bill Richardson for their support of education in the past, and hope our relationship will be strong in the future. We work for our children’s success in education and will continue to do so no matter what hurdles we may need to overcome.

Finally, we plan to provide regular updates on the legislative session. Please check back at this location for updates throughout the session.

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