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Attendance Low on Makeup Day

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Students were in short supply at APS Tuesday.

School hallways echoed with the clattering of teachers and custodians cleaning out classrooms and lockers during a rare, post-holiday makeup day at Albuquerque Public Schools. The last day of the school year trickled past Memorial Day because of four snow days in February, but apparently few students or their parents considered it much of a priority.

At Gov. Bent Elementary, about half of the school’s 575 enrolled students turned up, principal Jill Vice estimated. At nearby McKinley Middle School, an estimated one-in-six of the school’s 600 students showed up, school officials said.

But both schools dwarfed attendance Tuesday at Eldorado High School, where only a handful of students roamed the campus and hallways.

“I’m going home soon,” Nelson Rayburn, an Eldorado sophomore, said about 30 minutes after the start of school. Rayburn dropped by the classroom of his math teacher, Rebecca Totzke, to view his grades and help organize the classroom. Rayburn said he is looking forward to practicing with the Eldorado football team this summer.

“I’m sure I could teach him some algebra,” Totzke said of her lone student as the two worked in a largely vacant class building at Eldorado.

APS officials said they didn’t have reliable attendance figures for the district as a whole Tuesday because of computer problems but acknowledged attendance was low, particularly at high schools. Teacher attendance, however, was good, they said, with just 92 of about 7,000 teachers out for the day.

APS had previously scheduled all the snow makeup days for this week, but district leaders reconsidered the plan after board members raised concerns that the final week might be wasted time. APS instead used two parent-teacher conference days and the April 22 vernal holiday to help make up for school missed during severe weather in February. APS also asked for a waiver to excuse the fourth day, but state officials denied the request.

Younger students were more likely to attend school, possibly because some parents were unable to make alternative plans for day-care services, Vice said as she walked the halls at Gov. Bent Elementary. Elementary students also remain enthusiastic about attending school, she said.

“They want to be here,” Vice said of her students. “They love school. They still want to come.”

— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal

Photo Credit – pat vasquez-cunningham/JOurnal
Cutline – McKinley Middle School sixth grade students Emilio Trujillo, 12, and Krystal Rose, 11, play a math card game called “Set” with their teacher, Bridget Paul, on Tuesday.