APS school board hoping for legislature to expand virtual schools


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Learning from home might be a full-time option soon for New Mexico students. The school board of Albuquerque Public Schools is hoping to take what the district has learned virtually during the pandemic and expand that to other districts across the state. If approved, more virtual schools could be developed.

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“There are all kinds of opportunities to use this technology for connectivity and we were kind of just pushed into it with the pandemic,” said Dr. David Peercy, president of the APS school board. “We need to take this as lessons learned, as to how to do this and do it better, even, and to integrate it into how we do things. We have some kids who are home-bound, maybe for a little while, maybe for a long time. They need to be able to participate.”

APS says enrollment jumped so much at their online high school eCADEMY at the start of the pandemic, that they branched off a whole new school, eCADEMY K8. Now, they’re hoping to take this experience to other districts.

“We have seen that telework is going to likely continue. We have seen that homeschooling for many families has increased, in some states, like double digits,” said Peggy Muller-Aragón, an APS school board member. “I have parents who contact me from other small cities that would like the opportunity to have their children continue in a virtual school.”

The APS school board is asking the New Mexico School Boards Association and legislature to study what resources are needed to make more virtual schools. They’re also hoping funding will be approved to get smaller districts the capabilities already available at APS.

“We at APS have done a good job at this. We’ve got some teachers who have just done a fantastic job of integrating all this different curriculum,” said Dr. Peercy. “Maybe they don’t have a spatial teacher in advanced calculus in Mora, or maybe they do. Maybe they have a teacher up there that has a fantastic history background and we’d like to have a course that’s including students across the state of New Mexico.”

The board says they’ve also seen more parent requests within the district for virtual learning, but not by transferring their students to eCADEMY. They’d like the students to go virtual at their own neighborhood schools.

“We’ve lost about 5,000 students this past year and we’re funded based on enrollment from the previous year, so when you look at funding, it’s going to be very different this year,” said Muller-Aragón. “It’s going to take some time to be able to figure out how to do this without asking teachers to put in so much extra time beyond their workday.”

The district is already dealing with a teacher shortage. The board says they will need to hire a lot more if they want to bring virtual options to more APS schools.

The school board will go over the resolution in Wednesday night’s meeting starting at 5 p.m. They are going over several requests to present to the state legislature.

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