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APS planning to allow new calendar

Albuquerque Public Schools offices in Uptown. (Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — When it came time for Peggy Muller-Aragón to cast her vote, she looked up and let out an, “Oh, shoot.”

That’s because the District 2 school board member realized she was the deciding vote on a topic that members had discussed for over an hour and were ultimately divided on: alternative calendars.

These schedules, which have an earlier start day than traditional schools, but offer fall and spring intersessions, have stirred up quite the discussion among teachers recently, too.

The long-time schedule wasn’t presented as an option for the 2020-21 school year and staff publicly objected.

At a finance meeting on Monday, the board voted 3 to 2 to change that. David Peercy, District 7 representative and president of the board, and District 1’s Yolanda Montoya-Cordova voted no.

District 3 member Lorenzo Garcia and District 5’s Candelaria Patterson were absent.

The outcome allows the seven schools operating on an alternative schedule to include the calendar as an available option to vote on — for now.

Monday’s decision has to go through another formal vote to become official. Since the board was split on the decision, two other members in the conversation could shift what happens moving forward.

Adding a calendar doesn’t come without ripple effects.

Tami Coleman, chief financial officer, said adding a calendar is expected to cost the district an additional $400,000 to pay for logistics.

“Adding school calendars/instructional calendars is a really big deal,” she emphasized to the board.

That money would afford about five people to help out in departments such as student information, payroll and human resources to support an additional schedule.

“The school calendar is central to everything we do as a public school district,” she added, saying it determines work schedules, trainings and other operations.

Because of this, Coleman recommended, if the alternative calendar remains, that it is only for the 2020-21 school year and not subsequent years.

The logistical concerns are why three calendars were initially presented for schools to vote on.

APS originally offered one traditional calendar and two extended school year choices, which add 10 days to the year for a state-funded program that aims to improve student outcomes.

Montoya-Cordova said the impacts of adding a calendar outweighed the need.

“I don’t want to take a hit on an almost half-a-million dollar cost in administrative overhead when I would rather have money that’s going to be put into the classroom,” she said.

Peercy said the calendar options were getting out of hand.

“This option stuff is driving us absolutely crazy. The legislature has got to have … something here that helps us out in terms of what we can do in terms of using these kinds of things,” he said.

It came down to Muller-Aragón, casting the yes vote to push it forward.

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