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APS to revisit alternative calendar yet again

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

The Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education is yet again set to revisit whether some schools can operate on an alternative calendar, which has an earlier start day with inter-sessions in the fall and spring.

At a board meeting Wednesday night, staff from alternative-schedule schools called for it to be reinstated for the 2021-22 school year, saying the more year-round approach helps avoid regression during breaks and is better for student and staff burnout.

“Because most of my students I had last year, I have again this year … I saw a lot of the things that I taught them – all the processes, all the understanding – they didn’t understand those concepts anymore when we came back in August. It was just too long of a time,” said Billie Rames-Schultz, a teacher at Mark Twain Elementary School. “Our community has been on an alternative calendar of some sort for 30 years,” said Susan Leo-Russell, a teacher at Susie Rayos Marmon Elementary School.

These are arguments the board has heard previously as school staff have rallied to keep their schedule before.

The board initially approved allowing the schools to operate on the alternative calendar for this school year – which came with an estimated administrative cost of $400,000 – but ended up changing course. Instead, board members decided to start this academic year on the same day for almost all schools due to budgets and COVID-19.

Last school year, seven elementary schools operated on the alternate timetable.

“We had a pretty thorough discussion about (maintaining the alternative calendar). And like we had presented last time, it came down to process efficiencies and also a cost associated with maintaining those calendars,” Chief of Human Resources and Legal Support Services Todd Torgerson said.

APS Chief Financial Officer Tami Coleman also reminded the board that departments have gone through millions of dollars worth of budget cuts and the administrative cost projection is likely greater than $400,000 now.

The Board of Education directed staff to look into the academic performance of students on the alternative calendar and put together cost estimates before it decides on it in the future.

Meanwhile, the board unanimously approved the traditional calendar for most schools, which starts classes for the 2021-22 school year on Aug. 11, 2021, and ends on May 25, 2022.

District 2 Board Member Peggy Muller-Aragón said the board should explore putting nearly all schools on the alternative option, which would cut down on the added costs.

“The board needs to try to have a conversation about making the year-round calendar the traditional calendar,” she said.

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