Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
Thirty-nine people are vying to be the next leader of the state’s largest school district, with over 80,000 students.
Albuquerque Public Schools’ current Superintendent Raquel Reedy announced in October that she will retire at the end of this school year, starting a monthslong search.
The Board of Education is aiming to announce her successor, who will be the 29th APS superintendent, in May and have someone officially taking over the role on July 1.
The deadline for online applicants was Monday; 22 men and 17 women applied.
“Our community and our Board of Education want the new superintendent to put the needs of students first and be a seasoned educator. Those are a couple of the main, primary characteristics,” board President David Peercy told a news conference on Wednesday.
There was a nearly even split of in-state and out-of-state applicants.
Peercy said the board is considering a salary range of $225,000 to $300,000. Reedy makes a little more than $276,000 annually after a recent 11% raise.
The board president said typical contract lengths for a superintendent in large urban districts are three to five years.
Seven of the candidates for APS superintendent currently work for the district, including Associate Superintendents Gabriella Blakey, Troy Hughes and Madelyn Serna Mármol.
Last year, Blakey was a finalist for the Everett Public Schools superintendent position in Washington. She was part of APS’ revamp effort for schools labeled in need of “more rigorous intervention,” or MRI, by the previous administration of the Public Education Department, playing a big role in the district’s highly touted Genius Hour, an extra hour of unique learning each school day.
“I grew up in Albuquerque Public Schools as a student, attending Sandia Base Elementary School, Van Buren Middle School and Highland High School, and continued to serve the district as a teacher and administrator,” she wrote in her application.
In addition to APS leadership, district teachers and principals applied, among them Kimberly Finke, principal of Whittier Elementary School.
Whittier was threatened with closure after it was designated an MRI school and Finke was brought on to turn the school around.
In her application, she says the school had increases in math and English proficiency rates in one year.
“Famed French emperor and military leader Napoleon Bonaparte is credited with saying, ‘Leaders are dealers in hope.’ I believe that is what Albuquerque Public Schools needs right now – (a) dealer in hope – and I believe I am that person,” she wrote in her application.
Vickie Bannerman, Volcano Vista High School principal, also applied, highlighting improved academic proficiency rates and decreased suspension rates at the school under her tenure.
Roughly 33% of the applicants have either been a superintendent or are currently in the leadership role, according to APS.
That includes Taos Municipal Schools Superintendent Lillian Torrez, who said in her application that she would like to finish her career at APS and that 25 years of her career were with the district as a teacher and in administrative roles.
Clayton Municipal Schools Superintendent Stacy Diller, Carrizozo Municipal Schools Superintendent Wesley “Todd” Lindsay and Deming Public Schools Superintendent Arsenio Romero also applied.
Peercy said search firm Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates will begin reviewing the résumés, checking references and working on background checks.
The board is reviewing the candidates and will meet with the search firm on March 4 to determine semifinalists; finalists are expected to be determined later in March.
Eventually, there will be forums where the community can meet and hear from finalists who are looking to be the new APS leader.
Hiring a superintendent is one of the most crucial responsibilities of the board.
The board president said that getting the right person in the role is imperative, adding that the board could appoint an interim superintendent if it needs to further the search.
“The stakes are pretty high, and this is a difficult process,” Peercy said.