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APS not giving up on chance for sports

As Albuquerque Public Schools tries to author a formula to return students to classrooms – which would allow APS to compete in athletics – the district is going to take a hard look at how others have accomplished this.

Superintendent Scott Elder told the Journal on Friday that, in the face of the ongoing pandemic and related state guidelines for returning to play, APS has not given up hope on making athletics work this semester for the district, the state’s largest.

“We’re interested in what Rio Rancho is doing and what Las Cruces is doing,” Elder said. In-person learning models for those two cities have been approved by the Public Education Department, meaning athletes in those districts will have the opportunity to get into sports and activities.

“We want to put our energy into how we make this work,” Elder said. “We’re really focused on which elements of those plans can get enough people back to (meet PED’s requirements).”

Meanwhile, the APS board of education meets on Monday and is working on drafting a resolution, Elder said, to send to the governor’s office that asks the state to decouple the playing of sports from being in a hybrid model. The PED made that mandatory for schools that desire to participate in athletics.

Elder also revealed on Friday that APS was contemplating legal action in an effort to help get athletes get back into uniform. The district determined that any such effort likely would not succeed, he added.

“They (the PED) would have up to 30 days to make their first response, and by then a number of seasons would already be over,” Elder said.

On Thursday, Elder said, “APS is not giving up on fall sports yet. We’re gonna pursue every avenue to get our kids to play.”

TRANSFERRING: Student-athletes in APS who want to transfer face an obstacle – namely, the inability to move into an adjoining district. That would include Rio Rancho, Bernalillo, East Mountain, Moriarty, or any of the city’s private schools.

The NMAA said it worries about a “mass exodus” of students to districts that are offering in-person learning, and that it might lead to school funding issues for the 2021-22 school year.

There would have to be a bona fide residence move, one that the NMAA can verify, to a non-adjoining district be eligible for athletics.

“It’s a very difficult argument; it’s hard both ways,” New Mexico Activities Association executive director Sally Marquez said. This new bylaw will be in place only for the duration of this school year.

OPT-OUT LIST: The number of schools that have opted out of participating in the virus-delayed fall sports has grown to 34, up from 20 on Monday, Marquez said Friday. That’s about 21% of the organization’s 160 member schools.

Some of the new names that have been added to the list since Monday are Los Lunas, Belen, Valencia, Pojoaque, Cobre and To’hajiilee.

The other eight additions are Dulce, Monte del Sol, Tierra Encantada in Santa Fe, Peñasco, Tse’ Yi’ Gai in Cuba, Vaughn, Wagon Mound and Zuni.

Marquez said 104 schools are in. That leaves 22 that are unresolved, including the 13 in APS.

EARLY GRADUATES: Students who graduated in December of 2020 can participate in athletics this spring, but only if they are still living with the guardians they were living with immediately preceding graduation. Some districts, Marquez said, may not allow such students to participate.

NOTES: Rio Rancho and Cleveland are going to be paired in a district with Santa Fe High and Capital, likely for the semester – even if APS comes in late, Marquez said. … The next classification and realignment for NMAA schools, for 2022-23 and 2023-24, will be finalized by December.

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