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School program flexibility among APS legislative priorities

SANTA FE, N.M. — Albuquerque Public Schools’ legislative wish list includes less rigidity for extended learning programs and readdressing school security funding.

At a special meeting Monday morning, the Board of Education unanimously voted to approve its priorities for the upcoming 30-day legislative session, which is generally dedicated to budget matters and other issues approved for consideration by the governor.

Among the APS rundown is an ask for operational wiggle room for K-5 Plus and Extended Learning Time programs, both of which aim to spur academic growth by increasing class time. School district leaders have said the state-funded programs’ strict requirements are a hurdle. For instance, to fully qualify for K-5 Plus funds, the students had to have the same teacher and cohort of students in the summer portion as the rest of the school year.

In a draft of its priorities, the district says having flexibility with implementation could result in more kids participating in programs and an opportunity to focus on individual school needs.

“Albuquerque Public Schools supports operational flexibility to implement our locally grown, research and evidence-based programs for extended learning,” the draft legislative agenda states.

And APS is also planning to ask lawmakers to revisit school security dollars and to take a look at a financial matching requirement. Currently, money set aside by lawmakers for school security is subject to statutory contingencies, such as requiring districts to commit a percentage of their own funds. APS and other districts in the state have said the requirements to access legislative money have resulted in rescinding the safety award or not applying in the first place.

The district is aiming to go before lawmakers for a direct school safety appropriation, as well, according to Heather Dahl, policy and government affairs liaison.

The school district identified other priorities, including salary increases for employees – especially for the lowest paid personnel, teacher residency programs and mental health services.

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