School starts early for three underperforming APS elementary schools

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It’s still July, but hundreds of Albuquerque school kids are already going back to school as part of an experimental plan by the district to help a few underperforming elementary schools. 

Whittier Elementary in southeast Albuquerque; Los Padillas Elementary in the South Valley and Hawthorne Elementary school near Copper and Wyoming each started classes Monday. The early start is two weeks ahead of the rest of the district’s elementary schools.  

The early start comes as the state’s Public Education Department has identified the schools as in need of “rigorous intervention.” For the last several years, PED has labeled each of the elementary schools with failing achievement grades. 

Two core pieces of the schools’ schedule have been changed because of the “intervention.”

“Extending the school year as well as extending the school day to just give kids more time, more structured time in school,” said Dr. Gabriella Blakey, Associate Superintendent for Leadership and Learning at APS. 

Several parents outside of Whittier Elementary School spoke to KRQE News 13 about the changes that started Monday. 

“I’m just ready to see if it’s going to work or not,” said April Hamilton, mother of a fourth-grade student at Whittier. 

Hamilton says she’s never worried about her daughter’s education at Whittier. She was surprised by the changes, learning of the shift for the first time a week ago. 

“I thought it was crazy,” said Hamilton. “I’ve gone to APS my entire life and I’ve never endured anything like this like my child does.” 

Hamilton says while she will wait and see how the changes take shape, she’s not sure it will help. 

Another parent, Rachel Flores told KRQE News 13 she supports the change. 

“I was ok with it, because I thought it was a good step towards a better future,” said Flores. 

While she too says she’s never worried about her daughter’s education at Whittier, Flores believes the changes are a good thing. However, she says she wonders about how school under 4 p.m. will affect children. 

“I think it’s good that they’re going to move forward to change things, but I’m worried about it being such a long day,” said Flores. 

Most of APS begins on August 13. If the plan for extended hours works at Whittier, Los Padillas and Hawthorne, the district says it will consider using the same ideas for other schools. 

APS says eight other elementary schools started classes last week on Monday, July 23, as part of what the district calls an “alternative” schedule, formerly know as the “year-round” schedule. Those schools include Cochiti, Duranes, Eugene Field, M.A. Binford, Mark Twain, Navajo, Oñate and S.R. Marmon.

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