ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque Public Schools says it’s still working to get a teacher in every classroom, but has a ways to go. In the meantime, they’re having to rely on long-term subs to fill the gaps. But they say they are actually doing better than in years past.
APS says this year they didn’t apply for a classroom size waiver, which allows them to put more students per classroom. So, they were left looking for 175 more teachers than last year.
Right now, APS has 180 teachers openings. “Fewer and fewer people are going into education as a career, and couple that with aging teachers retiring,” says APS Director of Communications, Monica Armenta.
Albuquerque Public School officials say they are working to close the gap. So far this school year they’ve hired more than 450 teachers. “We went to different markets outside of Albuquerque, we looked at different studies that showed where people were graduating, we work harder with the universities to see programs we could partner with,” Armenta says.
APS says 115 of those openings are in special education. “Math, science bilingual teachers are always hard to find, but that’s a given every single year,” Armenta says.
President of the Albuquerque Teachers Federation Ellen Bernstein says they need to attract more people who want to become teachers and stay teachers.
“As long as we are working in a partnership with UNM and CNM, we have some really good programs, it’s just the need is bigger than the small programs,” Bernstein says.
APS says this year is a little different because they didn’t get a classroom-size waiver from the state like they’ve had in the past, so they needed to hire 175 new teachers just to accommodate the smaller classrooms. “If the class waiver was still in place, we would have all the teachers we needed,” Armenta says.
District officials say in the meantime they are depending on long-term substitutes, but they say as long as there are openings they are committed to hiring.
“The most important thing for every student is that they have a well prepared, well-supported teacher. We don’t want to have long-term substitutes as teachers, but as long as we have a national shortage it’s going to be a problem,” Bernstein says.
APS says in past years, they got the classroom-size waiver because of budget cuts and they weren’t able to pay for more teachers. Now they have the funding, just not the staffing.
APS says at this time last year they had about 220 teacher vacancies, and the year before that they had about 300.