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Superintendent's News

Posted: April 1, 2022

Registration, Retention, Recruitment

In his weekly message, Supt. Elder writes about Operation Connect and efforts to help families enroll for the 2022-2023 school year.

At its peak, student enrollment in Albuquerque Public Schools was more than 92,000. That was a dozen years ago. Since then, enrollment has steadily declined for a variety of reasons. Charter schools played a role early on, though their enrollment has steadied in recent years. A slow recession recovery forced many young people to leave the state in search of better job opportunities. Plus, people are having fewer children later in life. When my parents were my age, they were already grandparents. That’s not the case for me or most of my same-age friends and peers.

These factors contributed to an average drop in enrollment of about 1,000 to 2,000 students a year. Then came the pandemic, and that number jumped to more than 5,000. The highly contagious virus prompted families to reconsider their educational options, especially those with younger children. Many opted for virtual or homeschooling, something they’d grown accustomed to during remote learning. Others laid off due to business closings left the city, state, even the country to live with family and seek new opportunities. 

Now we have just over 73,000 students, forcing us to right-size the district. That involves moving staff around to fill jobs where needed and reconsidering some positions and programs that helped with day-to-day operations but aren’t required. Difficult decisions, to say the least. I appreciate our principals, Instructional Councils, and department heads who have to make these choices. Please know that we are doing all we can to find jobs for anyone impacted.

We are also trying to coax students and families back to our schools, reminding them of all the choices APS offers. We have nicknamed our registration, retention, and recruitment efforts Operation Connect

This week, Operation Connect hosted a virtual school fair where families got tips on registering for the 2022-2023 school year and had an opportunity to ask questions and gather information from many of our schools and departments, including the Student Service Center/Transfer Office, Student Information Systems and ParentVUE, Special Education, and Fine Arts. Thanks to all who participated. APS has so much to offer, but navigating the system can be overwhelming.

Operation Connect continues this weekend as we host an Enrollment Clinic at Berna Facio on Saturday, April 2, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. We have open registration at all of our schools through next week. And we will host additional registration clinics at City Center the week of April 11-14 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Not everyone is comfortable with online registration, so we will have experts and computers on hand to walk families through the process. Thanks again to all who are helping our returning families and welcoming newcomers. 

We all play a role in student retention and recruitment. Students and families will continue attending our schools when they feel welcome, wanted, and seen. New students, or those considering a return to APS, may want to go to our schools when they are aware of all we have to offer. Through this school year, we have featured Choice Checks, outlining the many programs, activities, classes, pathways, and support systems designed to fit the needs of a diverse student population. You can help. Remind your families, neighbors, and friends of all the good that is going on in our schools  – especially those who grew weary of the district during the pandemic and remote learning. Brag about the programs you are involved in or have witnessed firsthand. Our employees know best what amazing things happen in our classrooms, theaters, gyms, and fields. Help us spread the word.