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News from 2023-2024

Posted: December 21, 2023

Three Outgoing Board Members Reflect on Their Service

Montoya-Cordova, Muller-Aragón, and Petersen wrap up terms on Dec. 31.

Wednesday night’s Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education meeting was teeming with emotion as three longtime board members bid farewell.

Board President Yolanda Montoya-Cordova, board Vice President Peggy Muller-Aragón, and board member Barbara Petersen will officially end their tenure on the APS board on Dec. 31, but Wednesday’s meeting was their last as board members.

Yolanda Montoya-Cordova

Yolanda Montoya-Cordova, who described herself as a fourth-generation South Valley girl, said she would always be grateful for the educational experiences she had at APS schools. She thanked current and former board members she served with as well as Superintendent Scott Elder and former Superintendent Raquel Reedy, describing them as courageous.

And she praised staffers, the many programs APS offers, and the students.

“The most special art is found in our students,” she said. “Their energy, their enthusiasm, their struggle, their triumph, their joy, their sadness, their success, their failure are all used to propel them forward.”

She thanked them for their sacrifices through the pandemic, adding that their courage made her stronger.

“It’s been a pleasure, it’s been an honor to be here,” Montoya-Cordova said. “I’m not done either. I’m not going anywhere. I’m so committed to the state and to our community, so I will continue to fight on behalf of all of our students. But more importantly, on behalf of APS. This is a great place. Never forget you’re a great place.”

Barbara Petersen

Barbara Petersen, a retired teacher, noted that when she joined the board she had some misconceptions.

“In schools, we have real opinions about what happens in this building,” she said, referring to the APS administration building. “When I got here, I have to say that I had to really let some of those go because this building really and truly is filled with people who care about education, care about our students, and care about our staff. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. It’s been an honor to get to know all of you.”

She noted that as terrible as the COVID-19 pandemic was, she is grateful that she got to witness the resilience of students and the way APS staff and members of the community stepped up to do everything possible to make that period survivable for families. Petersen said she is proud of the expansion of both community schools and art and music programs in elementary schools.

“We can talk academics all we want, but if we don’t give students the things that nurture their souls, everything else will run out of steam,” she said, later adding that she will continue advocating for programs that make a difference for students.

Peggy Muller-Aragón

For Pegy Muller-Aragón, who is recovering from a head-on collision and participated in the meeting virtually, Wednesday night was particularly emotional as she referenced her daughter who was killed in a crash shortly before she was elected to the APS board.

“God had a plan for me to serve on this board and continue making things better for our kids and I was elected and given the ultimate honor to advocate for my APS kiddos for almost nine years,” she said. “When I was sworn in, I dedicated my tenure to my daughter.” She said she’s certain her daughter would be proud of the work she has done as a board member, stressing that she always put children first.

“There's a season for everything under the sun, and my board season has ended,” Muller-Aragón said. “But I'm truly proud of what we've done with changes to how we justify spending, how we deal with salvage, to hiring investment advisors, so taxpayers know their money's being taken care of, to supporting school choice to great charters, to student-based budgeting. But most important to me was inserting in our board policy that when we make decisions that we'll make them in the student's best interest.”