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Crystal Elaine Tapia-Romero

District 5 Candidate: Crystal Elaine Tapia-Romero

Candidate Questions and Answers

Affiliations

Do you currently hold another public office?

No

Do you have any affiliations with the Albuquerque Public Schools?

No

Availability

Are you available to attend board meetings on the first and third Wednesday nights of the month at 5:00 p.m. and special board meetings at additional times?

Yes

Additionally, there are five board committees that mostly meet once a month at 7:30 a.m., 3:00 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 4:00 p.m., or 5:00 p.m. Are you available to attend all committee meetings? Board committees are committees of the whole, which means that all board members attend all committee meetings.

Yes

Periodically, the board must meet during daytime hours for board meetings, budget hearings, and luncheons. Are you available during daytime hours for these activities?

Yes

In addition to regularly scheduled meetings, the board minimally requires approximately 20-25 hours a week in reading, researching, miscellaneous meetings, school visits, telephone calls, and e-mail correspondence; many board members spend much more time than that. Can your schedule accommodate the extra time involved in serving as a member of the Board of Education?

Yes


Experience

Answers should be brief and concise.

Why do you want to be a board member for Albuquerque Public Schools?

I want to see my community improve. I love Albuquerque and I’m a proud graduate of West Mesa High School (which happens to be in District 5). I want to do my part by leaning in and supporting our school district to ensure that every child in our great community receives an education that helps them reach their goals.   

What is your interest in education?

Education is the foundation to success, and I want to improve outcomes for our children so they can accomplish their dreams. For the last twenty years I have been an early childhood advocate and leader, and have extensive experience running early childhood centers. I am ready to share my experiences, learnings and expertise from early learning, staff recognition and support and more to do what I can to help APS improve.  

In what ways will you support the mission and vision of the district?

The mission and vision of the district should drive everything that we do, from the Board to the Superintendent, to school-based staff. I will work to ensure our community understands the mission and vision of the district and knows what they can do to support our success. I will hold the district accountable to our mission and vision and work to ensure our strategic plans are aligned to the mission and vision.   

How will you work with the superintendent?

I will maintain open and honest communication with the Superintendent and will work collaboratively toward district goals so that together, we can meet and exceed the district goals. 

What is your past and current involvement with Albuquerque Public Schools?

I am a proud APS graduate (West Mesa, 1998). More importantly, I’m the parent of two children who have attended Albuquerque Public Schools. I also have worked in my professional and volunteer capacities as a community advocate working toward improved early childhood outcomes for our city’s students.  

What should be the relationship between the superintendent and Board of Education?

It is critical that the relationship between the superintendent and Board of Education be based on trust and clear understanding of what is needed to move APS forward for our children. When there is trust and common understanding, it will allow each of us to do our part in improving our district for the benefit of our students.  

What qualities and skills would you bring to the Board of Education?

With more than twenty years of early childhood education and leadership, I am uniquely qualified to join the Albuquerque Public School Board of Education. As the founder of New Mexico Early Learning Academy, I am proud to share my success from impressive quality ratings (five star rated), staff retention, and consistent enrollment growth (more than 300% in under 6 months). I am an advocate for early childhood education providers, families and children on a local, state and federal level and can bring that expertise to the board. The specific qualities I can contribute include visionary leadership, budget oversight skills, time management, passion to help our children and proven leadership in education settings. 

What school or community volunteer activities have you participated in related to the community?

In addition to running my early childhood education center, I am the current policy chair for the New Mexico Childcare & Education Association, as well as a member of the Early Learning Advisory Council to the Governor. In 2019, I was nominated for the ABQ Businesswoman Working with Children and Families Award. I have been heavily involved in the PTAs at my children’s schools, local nonprofits supporting children and families, and my church. In my spare time, my husband and I enjoy softball, volleyball, and raising our children and dogs. 

How do you plan to work with constituents?

Working with our community is very important to me. I plan to host in-person town hall meetings to collect feedback, and online Zoom and Facebook Live meetings to ensure that we provide multiple opportunities for families. I hope to connect with each school PTA, Principal, and community and to spend time at their events and open houses. I’ll also send a quarterly email to district constituents and stakeholders. I am running to be a voice of our district and the only way to do that is to continuously hear what the members that district are saying. This is possibly the most important tenet of my campaign and the reason I am running. Together, we can create a better tomorrow for our students. 

What do you see as opportunities and challenges to the district?

We have some of the greatest choice options in the state to offer to our children, our students, and our families. Due to the complexity and sheer size of the district, getting the right information and opportunities to the families that might benefit from them the most is challenging. I think some of the greatest assets we have in our district include the Dual Enrollment programs and the CEC (Career Enrichment Center) Programs; these programs ensure that our students not only graduate from high school but also have skills that they can begin using immediately in the workforce post-graduation. We need to continue to make sure the families and students who would most benefit from these programs, have knowledge, access, and are able to enroll and utilize them.

Another opportunity and challenge I see immediately is the lack of budget oversight and the procurement process. With the recent allegations of malfeasance from an APS employee, we need to review these processes immediately and ensure that proper budget oversight and procedures are in place so we can ensure the dollars meant for our children go to our children. We must ensure we are getting dollars to where they matter most—the classroom.

What do you think is the best way for the district to accomplish the district’s goals?

Albuquerque Public Schools will provide equitable access and opportunity in a safe and supportive environment that addresses the individual needs of students.

We must ensure that APS staff receives the training they need to meet the needs of our students, that together, we are held accountable to meet the goals of the district, that resources are that together, we are held accountable to meet the goals of the district, that resources are decision making process. Then and only then can we meet the individual needs of our students. 

Albuquerque Public Schools will align the work of schools and departments and create a system of high-quality accountability for instruction, social, emotional and physical health and safety.

We need to constantly be working towards improvement and incorporating feedback from our community. We can build off of the recently planned “Future of APS” townhalls, by aligning our mission and vision to tangible goals. Once we have a clear understanding of our goals and ensure they are aligned to community needs, we must continue productive two-way dialogue and clearly communicate our progress toward our goals.  

Albuquerque Public Schools will create a clear direction for efficient and effective operations to better serve students and improve staff morale.

With an eye toward continuous improvement in all areas, including operations, I would look to see what other school boards across the country are doing, and what best practices they are utilizing. By learning from others near and far, we can work to optimize our district and deliver the maximum value to our students, families and taxpayers. 

Albuquerque Public Schools will improve all modes of communications to better inform and engage the Albuquerque community invested in public education.

This feels the most critical to me in terms of what and where we need to improve upon as a district. Our board of education meetings are cumbersome, and hard to participate in. If we have learned anything during this pandemic, it is that we must update our methods of communications and collaborate more with the community. If elected, I will work to make the APS Board of Education more agile and work to better improve communication with all stakeholders. 

If elected, how will you work with the current board?

As a member of many current and former boards, I look forward to the opportunity to connect and collaborate with all my fellow board members. As a board member I will engage in direct and honest communication, always ensure that I am representing my constituents, show respect to others, and learn everyone’s strengths and challenges. I enjoy working collaboratively in groups and know that when we can come together, we truly can move APS forward. 

 

Q&A  APS Board District 5 - Crystal Tapia-Romero from the Albuquerque Journal