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Under Albuquerque Public Schools’ proposal to “right-size” the number of schools in the district, some campuses could be turned into something else while their students are sent to other schools.
Officials recommended that five schools, most of them near the North Valley area, be repurposed and have their students put in different schools – Duranes, La Luz and Kirtland elementary schools, along with Polk and Taft middle schools.
Some campuses would be repurposed into something other than a school.
The factors that an APS committee considered when deciding on the specific schools range from socioeconomic demographics to facilities’ conditions to those schools’ academic performances in recent years.
Here’s a look at the variables that shaped the list.
Off the table
A few factors made some schools off-limits for recommended repurposing, according to the district’s right-sizing committee.
• CAPITAL INVESTMENTS: If APS has spent a certain amount of money on a school facility in the last two decades, they’re not considering it for right-sizing. For elementary schools, $10 million of capital investment or more in the last 20 years means it’s safe from the ax. For middle schools, the threshold is $11 million.
• LOTS OF SPECIAL EDUCATION STUDENTS AND SERVICES: Schools that were determined to be district “special education hubs” because of needs and enrollment were also taken out of the mix.
• HIGHLY USED: Schools with at least a 70% “utilization rate,” calculated as the school’s enrollment divided by its capacity, were also excused from consideration. Duranes, La Luz, Kirtland, Polk and Taft all bring up the rear in attendance for their respective school levels.
Any schools still in the mix after that point were scored based on a number of other variables.
Things that made a school more likely to be recommended for repurposing were:
• Having lower enrollment, or an emptier school building.
• Having a higher percentage of classrooms housed in “portables,” or trailer buildings.
• Having higher electrical costs per square foot – in other words, being housed in an older or less efficient building, and therefore likely needing more investment in the future.
• Having a lower “facility score” – a worse facility – based on the district’s five-year brick-and-mortar project master plan.
• Having a higher cost to operate per student.
• Being located in a neighborhood that’s been trending from residential to commercial over the last 20 years.
Variables that made a school less likely to be recommended for closure and repurposing, on the other hand, were:
• Having comparatively high special education needs and services.
• Having a higher percentage of students who are English language learners.
• Being a Title I school, which is a school that receives extra federal funding because of its high number of low-income students.
• Having a higher percentage of students eligible for free and reduced lunches, another marker of a student body’s income level.
• Having higher academic test scores in science, English/language arts and math.
• Having a high transfer-in rate. Conversely, schools that have a high transfer-out rate made a school more likely to end up being recommended for closure and repurposing. Both scores serve as indicators of how desirable the school district believes a school is to parents.