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Celia Cortez

District 6 Candidate: Celia Cortez (Questionnaire was updated due to incorrect formatting for opportunities and challenges.)

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?

As a native of Albuquerque, and having lived in New Mexico most of my life, I am dismayed to see that for twenty years, Albuquerque has had two-thirds of students unable to read at their grade level. I believe that APS has the teachers and staff capable to address these challenges. When looking at finances, APS's per student annual spending is higher than most other school districts. Are we spending our money the most effective way? We must ensure our spending is geared to the classroom where education happens. APS will be facing future some difficult budget cuts given the decline in student enrollment and the growth in home schooling and charter schools. My proven problem solving as a business person can help with budget decisions, bringing a diversity of thought to a board that is generally involved in education. I feel my background can add to the board's process of working to ensure APS and it's students can compete in a changing environment.

What is your interest in education?

My interest in education comes from several aspects. While I have no children, I feel strongly that the children and parents that are relying on APS should get a good education that prepares them for a career or college. Having more than 60% of the adult population only able to read at a fifth grade level is unaccetable. Business owners need workers that are career ready, able to read and do math. Every dollar should be spent wisely ensuring positive education outcomes. 

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

I will serve on the board ensuring the mission of APS and the success of students is kept first and foremost, in decisions all interactions with APS staff, parents and constituents. 

How will you work with the superintendent?

I will work with the superintendent and all necessary staff in a collaborative effort. We are all working toward a common goal. 

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

I attended APS's from grade school through middle school.

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

It should be a professional relationship, with each person's role given respect. The board must ensure they remain unbiased in decisions. 

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

I bring experience in operations management and financial experience from several highly competitive private .sector markets, which I will apply to help the district analyze and manage costs.

I will bring a diversity of experience to the board. Working with strict, often shrinking budgets, in highly competitive markets, I can offer a new perspective in the problem solving and decision making process.

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

I volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters for four years

I served two years on the board of Santa Fe Studio Tour. I also volunteered a third year as a committee lead. In addition to planning the tour, our group created/administered and awarded an art scholarship for high school artists.

How do you plan to work with constituents?

Through my campaigning, I have make good contacts with people throughout the district, I intend to use my existing and growing network of contacts to stay informed of their concerns

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

Opportunities -

  • dedicated teachers and staff that want to help their students
  • improving low literacy rates
  • windfall of federal funds

Challenges - 

  • declining student enrollment and matching federal funds
  • wisely managing the one-time windfall of federal funds

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.
  • 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.
  • Albuquerque Public Schools will create a clear direction for efficient and effective operations to better serve students and improve staff morale.
  • Albuquerque Public Schools will improve all modes of communications to better inform and engage the Albuquerque community invested in public education. 

For the district to achieve these goals, every stakeholder involved must be onboard. Students must show up to class and be ready to learn. Parents can help by being engaged in their children's education. Teachers play their part as the direct link to the students, knowing and able to meet individual needs. Operations staff work to ensure safe and healthy learning environments. Leadership and administration should provide clear goals and expectations for each department, providing feedback when needed. Leadership can champion each persons role in the success of APS. 

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

I will work with the board bringing a fresh perspective to team. I will be engaged with the community, bringing feedback to our decision process. I look forward to tackling the many issues facing APS and impacting the students. 

 

School Board Candidate Questionnaire for District 6 from The Paper

Opportunity for All Kids New Mexico School Board Survey- Celia Cortez