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Defend your vote and demand better

Albuquerque City Councilors DID NOT do their job as elected officials! Why don’t they want Albuquerque Public Schools representatives on the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Government Commission (ABCGC)? Elected officials claim they run for office to address education, but the recent vote shows political promises are lip service and they have no respect for APS board members.

Do not fear change, embrace collaboration.

On Nov. 19, city councilors voted 2-7 against adding the Albuquerque Public School District to the ABCGC, a move that excludes one of the county’s largest employers, largest economic stimulators and largest collective voice from a seat at the decision-making table. Only by having representatives from the county, city and APS can we effectively and inclusively address the needs of our community. Albuquerque residents, contact your city councilor and tell him or her to reconsider this vote and demand a regional advisory board that represents the community in all ways, on all levels — economically, socially and academically.

Here are City Council’s arguments and misconceptions (for opposing) the amendment:

The ABCGC only directs the funding of the behavioral health initiative. The ABCGC was created for discussing topics of common interest, long-range goals, community needs and other items as requested by both the county and city. In 2016, the County Commission approved a resolution that makes the ABCGC the group that formally vets behavioral health projects. The behavioral health initiative is not the sole reason the ABCGC exists, nor does the ABCGC direct funding or make policy; rather it makes recommendations to the county and city for formal action.

APS is not a government entity. The Board of Education is an elected body with six district representatives, charged with employing the superintendent, making policies and approving and overseeing the district’s $1.3 billion budget, i.e., our tax dollars.

Can the ABC Community School Partnership accomplish this? The community schools partnership focuses on the integration of currently available resources in academics and health and social services, with community engagement to improve student learning, thereby facilitating stronger families and healthier communities. The ABCGC works at a higher level in this process to recommend strategic actions that will in turn help to create those community resources.

Create another committee that can include APS. Government is notorious for its sluggish bureaucratic ways and redundancy. We have the opportunity now to utilize and/or expand an established body that will allow us to serve and better our community today.

Why should APS have a say in how we spend our money? APS, Bernalillo County and Albuquerque are all funded by tax dollars. Tax dollars come from the taxpaying community. “Our money” is YOUR money.

The ABCGC works to promote coordination and cooperation between the city and county. The ABCGC is currently comprised of four county commissioners, four city councilors and the mayor who all serve one-year terms. The proposed intergovernmental amendment would formalize the inclusion of APS by adding two school board members for a total of 11 voting members.

I served on the school board for four years and never once received a call from a city councilor to talk education. After being elected to the County Commission I can honestly say the issues look the same from both sides. Homelessness, behavioral health and community needs do not have boundaries and do not stop at city limits, county lines or school doorsteps. These are regional issues that require regional solutions.

As city, county and school board elected representatives, it is OUR job to do better. Because if we do not, then we are not only doing a tremendous disservice to our community, we are denying our children a better education and everyone a better community.

Act now and be a part of the solution!