Criticism forces APS to spare middle school sports - Albuquerque Journal

Criticism forces APS to spare middle school sports

Madison Middle School girls basketball coach Emily Peter walks past APS board members after speaking out against proposed budget cuts related to middle school sports on April 19, 2017. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)
Madison Middle School girls basketball coach Emily Peter walks past APS board members after speaking out against proposed budget cuts related to middle school sports on April 19, 2017. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)

Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal

After a barrage of criticism from parents, the state Public Education Department and Gov. Susana Martinez, Albuquerque Public Schools decided not to eliminate competitive middle school sports.

APS Superintendent Raquel Reedy
APS Superintendent Raquel Reedy

Administrators are working with principals, coaches and community partners to come up with a plan that will support middle school intermural athletics, according to a message posted on the APS website shortly before 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Roughly 3,400 students take part in the program, which includes volleyball, basketball, and track and field.

District spokeswoman Johanna King told the Journal that administrators are looking in other places for the approximately $600,000 that cutting intermural sports would have saved.

APS will reduce spending on equipment, uniforms, schedules and supplies, and could generate revenue by charging admission to middle school competitions. Support could also come from event sponsors, community partners and the nonprofit APS Education Foundation.

“I think there was always an effort to find the alternatives,” King said. “Nothing was set in stone.”

Earlier this month, APS announced a proposal to drop all competitive middle school sports for the 2017-18 school year. The proposal would not have affected physical education, intramural sports or competitive sports programs funded through grants.

But the prospect of eliminating intermural sports – schools competing against each other – quickly drew fire from concerned parents and state officials, who put the APS budget under scrutiny.

Last week, Martinez and PED criticized the district’s spending on public relations, lobbying and administrator salaries in a series of strongly worded statements.

PED sent the news media a list of 35 APS employees who make more than $100,000 a year, arguing that the district is top heavy and “bloated.”

On Wednesday, Martinez called the reinstatement of middle school sports to the APS budget proposal a “win for both kids and parents who made their voices heard.”

“The fact is, APS has shown time and again that they have distorted priorities by putting top-level administrators before students,” Martinez said in an emailed statement. “We hope they will think twice before shutting down athletics while they spend millions of dollars on PR specialists and lobbyists.”

APS board members Peggy Muller-Aragón and Analee Maestas also had expressed concerns over the plan.

On Wednesday, before the district announced that middle school sports would be spared, Muller-Aragón told the Journal she thought the district was prioritizing adults over children and vowed to vote against any budget that dropped the program.

“We are hurting people we are supposed to be helping the most – the kids,” Muller-Aragón said. “I am not going to do something to hurt them. The adults can take care of themselves; I am going to make sure we take care of the kids first.”

She listed a number of areas where the district could save money, such as on cellphone bills and attorney fees.

During a recent board committee meeting, Maestas stressed that many low-income families depend on middle school athletics because they can’t afford expensive club sports.

King said APS was not surprised by the backlash.

“We’ve had a lot of people reacting to a lot of parts of our proposal,” she said. “It is a tough financial outlook.”

APS is projecting a 2 percent cut for K-12 education during the Legislature’s upcoming special session – $12.4 million for the district. APS’ operating budget is $698 million.

In addition, higher expenses coupled with lower enrollment will add up to another $13.7 million for a total loss of $26.1 million

But King said APS administrators are “cautiously optimistic” that final budget numbers will be better than they expected.

“We emphasize over and over that this is a (budget) plan and it is constantly changing,” she said.

The APS board is scheduled to vote on the final budget on May 22. It will be sent to PED for review in early June.


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

Nativo Sponsored Content

taboola desktop

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS

1
Lobo/Aggie basketball rivalry returns after 2 years
ABQnews Seeker
After two years, the Lobo/Aggie men's ... After two years, the Lobo/Aggie men's basketball rivalry is back Tuesday night in Las Cruces.
2
Sunport has second-busiest stretch in 20 months
ABQnews Seeker
65,000 holiday travelers reported over 5-day ... 65,000 holiday travelers reported over 5-day period
3
New trial begins for Rio Arriba sheriff
ABQnews Seeker
James Lujan is charged with helping ... James Lujan is charged with helping a friend avoid arrest in 2017
4
Elk poached at Bandelier National Monument
ABQnews Seeker
Park rangers are seeking the public's ... Park rangers are seeking the public's help in finding those responsible for that killing, as well as the death of a mule deer
5
NMSU has nutty idea for citations
ABQnews Seeker
Donations of peanut butter will be ... Donations of peanut butter will be accepted in lieu of some parking fines
6
Cloud seeding company retracts application
ABQnews Seeker
Proposed project drew opposition from locals, ... Proposed project drew opposition from locals, organizations over 'potential for environmental damage'
7
UNM women to show what they've learned
ABQnews Seeker
Mike Bradbury is willing to count ... Mike Bradbury is willing to count his team's latest Texas road trip as a learning experience on one condition: His team had to actually ...
8
Pre-winter warmup brings highs 10-20 degrees above average
ABQnews Seeker
Rain chances for state expected to ... Rain chances for state expected to be slim until early next week
9
Five killed in June balloon crash died of blunt ...
ABQnews Seeker
A toxicology report on late pilot ... A toxicology report on late pilot Nick Meleski found he had marijuana and cocaine in his sy