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APS Seeking Consistency in Family Involvement

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Family involvement in Albuquerque Public Schools has to be more consistent, according to APS communications director Monica Armenta.

Armenta is one of the leaders developing plans to achieve one of the district’s major goals: improving family and community engagement in APS.

“Our intention was not to create random acts of family engagement, but basically to really home in on those things we heard in the community meetings and make some things happen,” Armenta told the school board recently.

Over the past year, APS has refined its previous eight goals to four. The other three are improving academic performance with a focus on closing the achievement gap, maintaining responsible and transparent financial stewardship and creating safe school environments.

The board recently heard plans for getting parents more involved, including a districtwide system to give parents online access to students’ information, developing guidelines for parent and community advisory groups and making sure policies are culturally inclusive. Another is training staff to ensure families and other visitors are safe and comfortable at APS sites.

“I can’t count the times this issue has come up,” Armenta said.

Board member Lorenzo Garcia, who represents the North Valley, has often talked about constituents who say they have been ignored or treated badly at their children’s schools because they did not speak English.

Another key plan is to have translation services so essential school and district information is available in multiple languages. Assistant Superintendent Diego Gallegos said this may require newsletters and other information to be more standardized across APS.

“We know that every school loves to kind of have their own take on everything they send out,” Gallegos told the board. “Well, if we’re going to improve translation and interpretive services, it’s got to be more consistent. We just cannot do it as a district if everyone gets to do it their own way.”

Another plan is to organize and streamline the many fundraising efforts happening across the district at any time. This will include monitoring and organizing all district-level fundraising, creating a clearinghouse of school-level fundraising and creating a process to approve the purchase of all apparel and merchandise by individual schools.

“As a mother out there, there are all the different fundraisers that we parents are asked to participate in,” board member Kathy Korte said. “And to be perfectly honest with you and perfectly blunt with you, a lot of us don’t even know what that money is being used for, or where it’s going, or why you’re asking us for more. So that’s a good action plan.”
— This article appeared on page C2 of the Albuquerque Journal