At least two Rio Rancho city councilors are throwing their support behind an Albuquerque charter school that wants to expand into the city but faces opposition from the local school district.
Rio Rancho Public Schools superintendent Sue Cleveland has expressed concern not necessarily about the school itself, but where it wants to locate. The Albuquerque Institute for Mathematics and Science charter school wants to establish two sixth-grade classrooms this fall on the UNM West campus. School officials have said the move would be only until the school can find a more permanent home.
Cleveland has voiced several concerns including having young children on the same campus as young adults, using space intended for higher education as it could impede UNM’s expansion there and whether the expansion is legal.
District 1 councilor Chuck Wilkins posted a letter on his website chuckwilkins.com criticizing opponents. He said the UNM building will probably not be used to capacity for years
“The UNM West campus was intended for higher education, but time and again it has not come to full fruition,” he said. “I for one am glad they are at least being smart about utilizing the currently empty space for the betterment of education. What are these people so worried about? A little healthy competition is good for everyone.”
Wilkins could not be reached for comment.
District 4 City Councilor Mark Scott said in an interview today that he wants to do “what’s best for children” and has received at least two dozen emails supporting the school. Scott said he plans to make a public statement at the City Council meeting tomorrow, where parents and other supporters are expected to make a showing. The council will meet at 6 p.m., 3200 Civic Center Circle NE.
“I think it’s great for UNM,” he said. “They have empty space and from a business stand point, it makes good sense to use that space.”
The UNM Board of Regents gave the charter school a preliminary green light last month but more recently the UNM West Advisory Council questioned whether the move was wise. Cleveland sits on the advisory council.