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Superintendent's News

Posted: October 29, 2021

Stepping Up During National Labor Shortage

Supt. Elder outlines some district efforts to hire much-needed staff.

I want to begin today by welcoming the 70 or so individuals who are preparing to join the APS team following this week’s job fair at Berna Facio. The new hires include regular education and special education teachers, food workers, bus drivers, custodians, and educational assistants.

Glad to have you aboard. Really glad! 

As your soon-to-be coworkers can tell you, this has been a challenging year in terms of staff shortages. We have had a hard time filling vacancies across the district, in schools and offices, kitchens and maintenance shops. We need more custodians, bus drivers, educational assistants, food workers, HVAC technicians, security aides, substitutes, and more. If you work in any of these positions, and frankly even if you don’t, you likely have felt the impact of the labor shortage.

It’s not just our dilemma. School districts across the state and nation are facing crippling staff shortages. We are not alone in our struggle to get kids to and from school, feed them hot meals, clean their classrooms, and cover their classes.

And yet, we are doing just that. So many of you have stepped up and filled in during this time of need, and I am grateful. Thanks to the teachers who have sold their prep periods, which means spending more time after hours preparing lessons and grading assignments. I sold my prep when I was a teacher, so I know just how exhausting your days can be.

Thanks to the transportation mechanics, dispatchers, safety officers, and managers with CDL licenses who are trying to get their regular work done between driving school buses in the mornings and afternoons.

Thanks to the security aides and police officers who are bouncing from campus to campus to keep students and staff safe.

Thanks to the administrators and EAs covering classes, the cafeteria workers putting in extra hours to prepare and serve meals, the custodians and maintenance workers staying late and coming in on the weekends to take care of our properties.

Thanks to each Albuquerque Public Schools employee who has put in extra time, filling in where needed, to ensure our students are learning and growing in safe, welcoming environments. I owe you a depth of gratitude, as does our community.

I want you to know that we are doing what we can to get more positions filled to ease some of this burden. For example, we are holding more job fairs. On Nov. 3, we’re partnering with the New Mexico Workforce Connection and the City of Albuquerque on a career and resource fair targeting the Native American community. And we plan to host our own quarterly job fairs, with the next one scheduled for January.

We’re also working with our partners at Kelly Education to get more substitute teachers and substitute educational assistants in the classroom. Nearly 90 substitutes have been hired in the past couple of weeks thanks to joint recruiting efforts (plus referral and sign-on bonuses).

Sign-on bonuses and a wage increase also have resulted in a slight uptick in bus driver applications, with about 10 prospective drivers going through the process since the Board of Education approved the incentives last week.

We also are looking to the future, working with our partners to grow educators through programs like:

  • The New Mexico Educator Fellows Program, newly launched by the New Mexico Department of Education, which is using federal COVID stimulus money to help teaching assistants become teachers. 
  • The Albuquerque Teacher Residency Partnership with UNM providing coursework, stipends, tuition assistance, mentorships, and a guaranteed job for college graduates interested in becoming teachers. 
  • The Special Education Teacher Training Program, a joint venture of APS, CNM, and the Albuquerque Teachers Federation to help individuals with a bachelor’s degree in any subject become a licensed special education teacher in 15 months.
  • The APS Educational Assistants Scholarship, a partnership between the APS Education Foundation and Nusenda Credit Union to support EAs who are seeking a teacher certification through a higher education plan.
  • The New Teachers Network, with ATF, a once-monthly, one-hour dynamic and engaging Saturday meeting to address timely topics, meet other teachers, and problem solve.

I know we have already asked much of our employees, but I have one more request – help us get the word out about the benefits of working for APS. Point your friends and neighbors to our comprehensive benefits package, retirement plans, and opportunities. These aren’t easy jobs, but they are rewarding. And you are appreciated.