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Elder Announces Changes to District Leadership Team

The changes not only will better support schools, but also will save about $250,000 in administrative costs.

Scott Elder takes the reins at APS amid the global pandemic as well as an economic downturn and civil unrest. In anticipation of budget cuts, the new Interim Superintendent said the district is already looking at ways to save money. He has announced a few changes to his leadership team that not only will better support schools, but also will save about $250,000 in administrative costs.

  • Yvonne Garcia has been named Chief of Schools, a new position created in response to the Council of the Great City School’s review of the district’s special education department. One recommendation from that review was to develop a leadership position that “aligns administrative support for teaching and learning to focus and leverage district resources.” Garcia’s experience, knowledge, and passion from more than three decades as a teacher, school administrator, and associate superintendent make her the right person for this new, demanding job, Elder said.
  • Gabriella Blakey has been named the Interim Chief Operations Officer, replacing Elder. “As far as we can tell, Gabriella is the district’s first female COO and one of only a handful in the nation! Take it from me, her years of experience in running schools, as well as her five years as associate superintendent, will serve her well in this position,” Elder said.
  • Gene Saavedra, a longtime principal who spent many years in our schools, will move from principal support specialist to Interim Associate Superintendent for Zone 1.
  • Principal support specialist Amanda DeBell, the former Rio Grande High School principal, brings a great deal of school experience to her new position as Interim Associate Superintendent for Zone 3.
  • A third principal support specialist, Katherine House, who came to APS a couple of years ago from Rio Rancho Public Schools, has been named principal of the new eCademy K-8 online school.

To realize cost savings, APS will not replace any of the three principal support specialist positions left vacant by these moves. Instead, it will realign its administrative support for zone associates and principals.

“These are just the first steps we are taking to run the district more efficiently and economically. We will continue to search for cost savings while making sure our schools are safe for students to learn and staff to work,” Elder said. 

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