Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
After the COVID-19 pandemic halted Albuquerque Public Schools’ superintendent search, the process is in full swing again, with 15 new applicants seeking the job.
At a virtual news conference Tuesday, Board of Education President David Peercy said 11 men and four women applied to lead the state’s largest school district after the job was reposted. Applications were due Jan. 6.
The process to replace former Superintendent Raquel Reedy after her retirement had been well underway, and five semifinalists had been named out of 39 original applicants. But the search was suspended in March, and then-Chief Operations Officer Scott Elder was later named the interim leader. In November, the Board of Education decided to move forward with the search process and to open it up to more applicants. The continuation was expected to cost an additional $4,000.
The board will consider the latest applicants along with semifinalists who were already named. Three of those five semifinalists are still interested: Kimberly Finke, principal of Whittier Elementary School; James McIntyre, assistant professor and director of Center for Educational Leadership at the University of Tennessee; Bolgen Vargas, a self-employed consultant and former superintendent of Rochester City School District in New York.
Peercy said the base salary for the position will likely range from about $230,000 to $270,000, depending on experience.
This round’s applicants included principals, superintendents of school districts and assistant superintendents.
Three applicants are from New Mexico. Ten of the contenders are Caucasian, three are Hispanic, one is African American and one is Asian, according to the district.
The pool includes a candidate the APS community will recognize: interim APS Superintendent Elder.
His application says he’s been with APS since 1991.
“APS needs someone who understands the culture of the district and the various forces that impact it,” he wrote.
Elder didn’t apply in the first round.
The board will meet next week to select any additional semifinalists. In the meantime, a search firm will review the applications, check references and work on background checks.
Semifinalist interviews are planned for February. The aim is to announce the superintendent pick in late March or early April so the new leader can start July 1.
“We will provide opportunities for APS families, employees, students and community members to ‘meet’ the candidates, probably through Zoom meetings similar to how we’ve been holding board meetings during the pandemic,” Peercy said.
Families United for Education is hosting a rally to promote “equity, fairness and community voices” in the search. Emma Jones, an APS mother and member of Families United, told the Journal there’s distrust because of past superintendent hirings. Reedy was officially handed the reins as superintendent in 2016 after she too served as interim superintendent. Jones said the group wants a leader who will focus on racial equity.
Peercy said in a statement to the Journal that community members can give feedback to the board anytime, including through email and public forums, and that comments will be taken into account during the process.
“It is the board’s responsibility to select the next superintendent and to establish the process to get that done,” he said. “From the beginning of this effort, this board has been absolutely open to both what the process is going to be and that all community input is valued and will be included in our decision.”
The Families United for Education rally is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday both online and at APS main offices with a car caravan.