Debt-ridden Albuquerque Charter School asking community for help


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) โ€“ An Albuquerque Charter School is being forced to close its doors, after racking up hundreds of thousands in debt.

But in a last ditch effort, school staff is now asking the community to help bail them out.

“I started this school in June 2006,” said Justina Montoya.

Principal Justina Montoya has been at La Resolana Leadership Academy since the beginning.

“We’ve been in operation now for 11 years,” said Montoya.

The Charter Middle School, located near Central and San Mateo, has 74 students.

Montoya said most her kids are economically disadvantaged and come to the school a few years behind where they should be.

“They’ve either fallen behind or been left behind for whatever reason and so we take them how they come in the door,” said Montoya.

But Montoya said the school will most likely have to close those doors. That’s because it’s more than $200,000 in the red.

“Unfortunately, for the first time in 11 years, we had a deficit that was large from relocating to this location,” said Montoya.

Montoya said when they moved into a state-owned building two years ago, she didn’t realize it was in such bad shape.

“I think the one thing I would’ve done differently that I didn’t know at the time, probably would’ve been to have the building independently inspected,” said Montoya.

After spending thousands to remodel the run-down building, the school also didn’t reach its enrollment goal of 100 students.

“The kids just didn’t come and so that was really the nail on the coffin as far as our renewal this year,” said Montoya.

But Montoya and her staff said they won’t go down without one final fight. They’ve now started a GoFundMe page, asking the community for help.

The GoFundMe page comes a week after Montoya asked the Albuquerque School Board if they would renew the school’s charter, knowing the state most likely wouldn’t.

“Since the Public Education Committee is our authorizers, they’re the ones who legally have the power to close us,” said Montoya.

APS said they couldn’t take on that kind of debt.

“It breaks my heart to know these kids have worked so hard, the teachers and staff have worked so hard,” said La Resolana Teacher Joe Dan Lovato.

For Montoya and her staff, they still believe the community will come through.

“This is a one time occurrence and if we can get it resolved, we can stay open,” said Montoya. “If we can’t get it resolved, we would close and that would be a loss for our community.”

La Resolana gets high marks. It’s a “B” middle school.

But the State’s Public Education Department said every school is still expected to operate within budget.

PED said the kids can stay at the school until May.

After that, PED said it will help the students transition into new schools.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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