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APS Superintendent Search to Restart

The Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education decided to restart the search that was paused in March due to the pandemic, opening it up to potential additional semi-finalists. Read the complete story.

About the Search

When Superintendent Raquel Reedy announced her plan to retire on June 30, 2020, the APS Board of Education began a national search for the district's next leader. After collecting public input regarding the qualities and characteristics desired in the new superintendent, the job was posted in February, 2020 and 39 individuals applied. The search was postponed due to COVID-19 and was restarted November 9, 2020. Applications are being accepted.

Five semi-finalists were announced

The Board selected five semi-finalists: 

  • Vickie Bannerman, Principal of Albuquerque Public Schools Volcano Vista High School
  • Michelle Cavazos, Chief Officer for Academics and Social Emotional Learning for Austin Independent School District
  • Kimberly Finke, Principal of Albuquerque Public Schools Whittier Elementary School
  • James McIntyre, Assistant Professor & Director, Center for Educational Leadership at the University of Tennessee
  • Bolgen Vargas, Self-Employed Consultant and former Superintendent for Rochester City School District in New York

The search was postponed due to COVID-19

Semi-finalists interviews were scheduled just as school buildings were ordered closed by the state due to the spread of the contagious virus.

As a result, the search was suspended indefinitely and Scott Elder, who had served a the district's Chief Operations Officer, was named interim superintendent.  Elder signed a one-year contract as interim superintendent. 

Visit the APS Translation Disclaimer webpage for translation information.


- [Narrator] The distance from here ... to here may seem like a stretch, but in reality, schools and central administration operate in sync. And the person responsible for making that happen will be number 29. The seven elected officials who make up Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education are poised to hire the district's 29th superintendent for America's 35th largest urban-suburban-rural school district. It's a big deal. In most communities people know the superintendent by name, but how much do they know about the actual job?

- [Interviewer] If you had to guess, what do you think the superintendent does at work?

- Um ...
Um ...
They ...
Um ...
help kids.

- [Narrator] Excellent guess! It's all about creating a clear vision for success in a big, diverse district that faces a mountain of socio-economic challenges. It's about meeting the academic needs of all students, especially our most vulnerable. A lot of people are surprised to learn 19% of our student population receives special education services. The vision created and followed by the superintendent is also about district leadership and accountability. But above all, there are expectations. We want all our students to reach their academic potential. That's where the passion, expertise and hard work comes in.

- What do I think a superintendent does all day? I would say probably wears many hats. Jack of all trades, master of all them. A superintendent takes care of the big things, listening to all of the problems from the associate superintendents, and then also probably wants to get into the schools and listen to those sweet children.

- Oh, jeez.
So, I think a superintendent ...
gosh, worries a lot.
Visits a lot of different schools, talks to a lot of different people.

- Anything executive, in that major decisions are made with certain policies, maybe taxes and stuff like that. Basically, they touch a little bit everywhere, but they're not single-- They're not specialized in one area. They help make decisions for certain areas.

- Meetings. (laughs)

- I think the superintendent does a lot of things every day to ensure that our students are constantly ... receiving the education they deserve, making sure that our educators are making a difference in students' lives every day.

- [Narrator] All of the above are correct, with so much more to add. The superintendent is the CEO of the district with 142 schools and 12,000 employees, the person who Puts our 81,000 students first.

- The teacher of all teachers. She's helping students, she's helping teachers, she's helping people who help teachers help students, and so that is the role, is the mega teacher for the whole district.

- [Narrator] The superintendent is responsible for a $1.4 billion budget, a budget that has an enormous economic impact on our city.

- I think that they really encompass multiple jobs. So, they oversee a lot of the APS staff, board members, how things are running as far as education, funding for APS. So, I think their job is pretty broad.

- [Narrator] Implements the school board's vision by making day-to-day decisions about educational programs, resources, staff and facilities.

- The superintendent does a variety of things, I'm assuming, like dealing with a lot of community issues, but also making sure that things internally in APS are working well.

- [Narrator] Hires, supervises, and manages central office and principals.

- The superintendent has to lead their district. They are the ... The school board has one job, and that's to hire a superintendent, and that superintendent is in charge of everything that goes on in their district, and they're ultimately responsible for all of that. It doesn't matter if there's 400 kids in your district or 90,000. And so, they have to choose great leaders that can lead all the different departments. And if they don't do a good job of that, it shows up in the paper.

- [Narrator] A superintendent has to be flexible.

- What do I think the superintendent does all day? Puts out lots of fires all day long.

- [Narrator] Attentive, and a good communicator who listens and is eager to be the face of the district. The superintendent also nurtures key relationships at the local and national level, relationships with the Board of Education, students, families, media, legislators, the business community, the public education department, political forces, unions, and everyone invested in making public education the very best it can be.

- A superintendent on a daily basis manages all of the other superintendents, looks at the grand picture of our school system, and tries to make a plan that strategically improves our schools while working with the community, business leaders, and individuals within our community.

- [Narrator] And we haven't even discussed demands outside the academic arena that often overshadow public education, such as: School safety, drug use, gun violence, teen suicide, and bullying. Public education is complicated and every decision matters, even those made on inclement weather days. Delay, cancel, or stick with the school schedule? It's never an easy decision, but the buck stops with the superintendent, who ultimately knows the best call is made on the basis of what's best for students.

(upbeat guitar music)