ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It’s not election season but school communities are still prepping to cast ballots.
Staff and families across Albuquerque Public Schools are deciding on whether to add 10 days to their school’s calendar.
At a news conference on Tuesday, Associate Superintendent of Zone 3 Yvonne Garcia said voting will take place at the individual school level.
“Every staff will vote. Every family will have the option of voting, to decide … which calendar they’d like to be able to use,” she said.
For the 2020-21 school year, APS has put three options on the table, two of which add the extra class time:
• Traditional Calendar: The first day of school would be Aug. 12 and the last day would be May 25, 2021.
• Extended Learning Plan A: Five extra days would be added to the beginning of the year and five would be tacked on to the end. The first day of school would be Aug. 5 and the last would be June 2, 2021.
• Extended Learning Plan B: A year-round option that would kick off school on July 21 and end on June 11, 2021. Under this plan, there would be several breaks throughout the year.
Associate Superintendent of Zone 1 Gabriella Blakey said there is a transfer process if a parent doesn’t like the calendar outcome.
Extra time in the classroom has been a mammoth topic in New Mexico.
The Legislature previously appropriated about $62 million toward Extended Learning Time programs.
The state-funded effort lengthens the school year by 10 days, boosts professional development time for teachers and creates academic after-school opportunities or extracurricular programs.
For the most part, APS schools will be choosing between the three calendar options but there are some exceptions.
Blakey said comprehensive high schools are exclusively deciding between the traditional calendar and plan A. She said a year-round calendar would have too many scheduling conflicts for a high school, including sports.
Also, schools that are implementing K-5 Plus, a 25-day summer learning program, won’t be able to implement a year-round calendar – that option doesn’t afford a 25-day gap for K-5 Plus.
A year-round model isn’t completely foreign to APS.
“We have seven schools now that are currently on a year-round calendar and they have been for over 15 years,” Blakey said.
An extended school year can result in improved test scores, better attendance and higher teacher retention, according to the district.
This school year, officials have said, only about a dozen schools participated, citing a tight implementation turnaround.
Schools used to be able to offer an extended calendar for a targeted portion of their students. But that won’t be an option for the 2020-21 year.
Detailed calendars, including breaks, can be found at aps.edu.
Schools’ final decisions are slated to be submitted to the district by Feb. 12.