With little dissent, Albuquerque Public Schools board approves new district map - Albuquerque Journal

With little dissent, Albuquerque Public Schools board approves new district map

Albuquerque Public School recently approved a new map for board districts, one that will see over 66,000 Albuquerque-area residents get new board members. (Source: APS and Research and Polling Inc.)

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Over 66,000 Albuquerque-area residents will have a new school board member representing them under a new map approved Wednesday.

The decision, a culmination of a monthslong process that happens every 10 years after decennial census data is released, was made on a 5-2 vote, with the only dissenting board members being Barbara Petersen and Josefina Domínguez.

The most notable change was to shift Corrales to District 3, which also covers the North Valley and Los Ranchos. Eight schools in all, according to Research & Polling Inc., will have new districts.

All board members will keep their seats. The map, a district spokesperson said in an email, goes into effect for the next board member elections in November 2023.

Several community members who spoke at the meeting asked for a map that better represented Albuquerque than the concept eventually approved later that meeting, calling for the board to choose a map that established three districts that primarily contained Hispanic people of voting age.

“Map concept E and its number of versions (one of which was ultimately approved) do not represent Albuquerque,” community member Joe Gallant said. “I would ask the board to pass a map with three Hispanic-majority voting age population districts.”

Across APS, according to a district data dashboard, about 66% of students are Hispanic. Redistricting data provided to the board, based on the 2020 census, showed that over 45% of voting-age adults in the district are Hispanic.

Petersen joined in on the call for three majority Hispanic districts, saying the map that was ultimately approved packs minority and economically disadvantaged populations into three districts: District 1, District 5 and District 4, which she represents.

District 1 covers the South Valley and extends as far east as the Southeast Heights. District 4 includes the International District and much of Nob Hill and Uptown, while District 5 covers large swaths of the West Side, including West Mesa.

Petersen argued that none of the maps put in front of the board accurately represented the community, and was joined by Domínguez in claiming the committee was politically motivated, with one having served as a deputy chief of staff for former Gov. Susana Martinez.

Several board members decried those claims, pointing out that the people on the redistricting committee were hand-picked by board members.

“We asked the community to help us, we asked people to do things for us, and then we have the audacity to sit up here and then criticize them personally,” board member Courtney Jackson said. “It is disgraceful.”

Amid concerns that the original maps violated the Voting Rights Act, Michael Sharp, vice president of Research & Polling, assured board members that the way districts were drawn in fact complied with the act.

He also pointed out that Districts 2, 3 and 4 are majority-minority districts when it comes to voting-age adults. Districts 1 and 5 are majority Hispanic districts.

The last time APS board districts were redistricted was in 2012, when the board at the time established two districts west of the river after community concern that an earlier concept split the communities around Cibola and Volcano Vista high schools.

Under the new map, there are still three board districts on the west side of the Rio Grande.

District 1, which largely covers the South Valley and is currently represented by board president Yolanda Montoya-Cordova, saw the greatest losses – dropping in population by a little over 4% since the 2010 census.

On the other hand, board member Peggy Muller-Aragón’s District 2 – covering much of Northwest Albuquerque, including Ventana Ranch and Taylor Ranch – grew by 10.9%.

Only District 1 needed to change, Sharp said at an early August meeting. But to accommodate for that growth, other districts needed to shift, he added.

Under the new map, District 1 grew by almost 11,500 people in total – a little over 13% – and District 5 lost over 5,600 people, which was almost a 6% decrease. With the loss of Corrales, District 2 lost over 8,100 people.

Under the new map, District 1 will have almost 98,400 people in total. District 2 will have over 93,300, District 3 will have over 101,600, District 4 will have almost 102,000, District 5 will have almost 93,000, District 6 will have almost 98,000 and District 7 will have almost 95,300.

Source: Research & Polling Inc.

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