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Superintendent's News

Posted: August 27, 2021

Spending and Planning

In his weekly message, Superintendent Elder writes about the next steps in developing a strategic plan and spending federal funds.

Just before we wrapped up the past school year, I asked APS employees to take a survey that would help us gather suggestions, align thoughts, and reveal common ideas on improving the district. (We sent the survey to APS families as well.)

Thank you to the thousands of respondents, including many of you. Your contribution is valued.

Now, on to the next step. 

We are hosting five virtual town hall meetings in the next couple of weeks to share survey results and gather more staff and public input to turn those suggestions, thoughts, and ideas into a comprehensive strategic plan for this school year and beyond. 

Fortunately, we have the money now to implement much of the plan, thanks to a third round of federal funding provided to help Albuquerque Public Schools and school districts across the nation recover from the pandemic.  

APS has already received more than $100 million in stimulus funding. Last fall, we received $26 million, spent mainly on personal protective equipment, COVID safety, and technology. 

A few months later, APS received another round of stimulus funds, this time more than $104 million for transitional support, which was again used to pay for PPE, COVID safety, and technology and address unfinished learning through summer programs.

The latest round of federal funding, which comes from the American Rescue Plan passed by Congress and signed by President Biden in the spring, provides more than $122 billion nationwide to help schools recover from the pandemic. Our share is about $230 million.

We want to use the money wisely, tying it directly to the five pillars we have outlined for the district:  

  • Ensuring equity and access for all students and staff
  • Supporting high-quality, equity-driven instruction for every student
  • Supporting social and emotional learning
  • Maintaining effective and efficient operations
  • Engaging staff and community

There are lots of rules tied to the spending of federal stimulus funds, as you can imagine. Allowable expenses under the American Rescue Plan include:

  • Meeting the needs of students, particularly  low-income, special education, and at-risk
  • COVID safety
  • Education technology
  • Mental health services
  • Summer and supplemental learning
  • Facility repairs
  • Maintaining operations and services

Among the funding priorities set by the New Mexico Public Education Department are:

  • Closing the digital divide
  • Accelerated instruction
  • Supporting social and emotional needs
  • Supporting the unique needs of students with disabilities and at-risk student

Sound familiar? (See the district’s five pillars listed above.) So, we know we’re on the right track. 

The federal plan also calls for public input and meaningful stakeholder consultation, which brings me back to the virtual town halls scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 31, at 10 a.m., 4 p.m., and 6:30 p.m., and again on Tuesday, Sept. 7, at 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Aug. 7.

I appreciate hearing from employees like you who know our students, understand our families, and are passionate about education. I hope you extend an invitation to others in our community, including those who often don't have a voice. We want to hear from all so that we can benefit all.   

Thanks for your time.