Senate bill would split Albuquerque Public Schools into separate, smaller districts

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Senate Education Committee is expected to take up one lawmaker’s proposal that would break up the state’s largest school district.

Now, the Albuquerque Public Schools’ superintendent and school board president are voicing their concerns about the potential split.

“I’m carrying a bill that limits the size of school districts in New Mexico to 40,000,” said Representative David Adkins, District 29.

Adkins’ proposal could have a big impact on APS.

With more than 85,000 students, it’s one of the largest school districts in the nation. But, Senate Bill 89 would essentially break APS up into three separate, smaller districts. Adkins says that would help improve education and make the district more community-focused.

Read: Senate Bill 89 »

“It would make it easier for the superintendents of the school districts to really implement the vision, implement the changes that need to happen at a district level but it would be focused on the geographic areas,” said Adkins.

Before filing the bill, Adkins met with APS Superintendent Raquel Reedy who has her own opinion of the proposal.

“It’s just something that is hard for me to even fathom,” said Reedy.

While Reedy says she recognizes the reason for the bill is that APS is just too big, she thinks a division of the district would do more harm than good.

“I was surprised that it came up because frankly, I see the city of Albuquerque being impacted in a way that would divide the city,” said Reedy.

School Board President David Peercy believes dividing up APS could create a transportation issue, decrease services, and make it more difficult to get state funding.

“I think it would create equity problems at our schools. Equity from a financial like capital debt. It would create equity problem from education,” said Peercy.

But, Superintendent Reedy thinks she has a solution that both parties could agree on. She’s calling it the “K-12 Continuum Initiative.” It would assign associate superintendents to a small number of “feeder schools” in different parts of the metro. It has a similar goal to help create a vision for education and address the unique needs in each area.

“I want that kind of rich dialogue to take place and if we do it consistently and we will across the board, you will have that and it will help our students as they go from level to level,” said Reedy.

While Adkins respects the fact that Reedy is working on this initiative, he believes splitting the district would provide more accountability.

“I think long term it’s going to save money. It’ll get more money into the classrooms. Less administration will be needed because they will be smaller districts,” said Adkins.

The bill provides $150,000 for hiring a third party to assess the best and fairest way to break up the district. If it is passed, the district would have two years to comply.

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

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