APS superintendent talks future, defends pricy hires

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ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The new Albuquerque Public Schools superintendent talked about what needs to be done in the district Wednesday and defended a couple of his first moves that are already raising eyebrows.

“You know the phrase drinking from a fire hose, well that is me,” Dr. Luis Valentino said, acknowledging the work ahead of him.

Technically, he doesn’t start until late June but that’s not slowing him down.

“There is a lot of support already and a lot of guidance and direction from folks in the school district.”

On Tuesday, Valentino met with Education Secretary Hanna Skandera. They discussed controversial ideas like PARCC testing and teacher evaluations.

“Being able to calibrate the elements that come to measuring the quality of a teacher have to be looked at very closely,” Valentino said.

Valentino comes from San Francisco where he said things were quite a bit different. He didn’t go in to details about his thoughts on how things are done in New Mexico but said there will be plenty of conversation to come.

He kept coming back to the same idea, putting all students first.

“Not only the high performer, not only the low performer, not the English language learner but every student.”

He also touted the district’s truancy initiatives but says more needs to be done to make sure parents are sending their kids off to school, ready to learn.

“There are many times when we have to go out into the community and articulate that to parents,” Valentino said.

Heโ€™s also sticking by his decision to create two new high-paying positions at APS. Combined, those two top aides will make more than $300,000. Toni Cordova, who comes from the Santa Clara County Office of Education, will be named Chief of Staff and Jason Martinez, a former instructor in Denver, will help with instruction and program growth.

“They will be a critical part of the team.”

The governor’s office and Skandera have been critical to APS in the past, saying the district spends too much money on its administration. The Public Education Department didn’t want to comment on the new pricy hires Valentino made, only saying its meeting with the new superintendent was productive.

Valentino starts at APS June 22. He will be making $260,000 a year to start.

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