Sunday, January 09, 2011
APS Candidates Appear at Forum
By Hailey Heinz
Journal Staff Writer
School size, the achievement gap, parental involvement and transparency were all discussed at a Saturday morning forum for Albuquerque Public Schools board candidates.
Fourteen hopefuls are vying for three spots on the board that will be decided in a Feb. 1 election. The seats represent the West Side, South Valley, Uptown, University and Kirtland areas.
"Their points of view were pretty diverse," said Bernice Martinez Comstock, who attended the forum with her husband. "I found it very informative."
Because of the number of candidates, each made a short speech about their background and vision for APS, before taking one question from the audience. About 70 people attended the forum, which was held at the University of New Mexico law school and sponsored by the Democratic Women of Bernalillo County.
Incumbent and current Board President Martin Esquivel, who represents the UNM and Uptown areas in District 4, said upending APS is not the way to improve it.
"I, for one, don't believe you need to take a sledgehammer to APS to improve it," he said.
One of Esquivel's opponents, Candido Archuleta Jr., used his time to talk about problems he encountered at his son's school, when a leak turned into a mold problem and he felt parents were kept out of the loop.
"As a parent, I found a lot of roadblocks and some pushback," Archuleta said. As a board member, he said he would aim to break down that bureaucracy for parents.
Stephanie DeBellis, who teaches kindergarten at Navajo Elementary School (District 1) but lives in District 4, said she is watching all the races closely for issues that matter to teachers.
DeBellis said she is worried about the possibility of larger class sizes and loss of classroom services due to budget cuts, and also said she spends too much time evaluating her kindergarteners.
"I'm spending far too much time testing," she said. "We need to be instructing."
Candidates for District 1 are incumbent Dolores Griego, Phillip Chavez, Analee Maestas, Clara Peña and Jay Zook.
Running in District 2 are John Herrera, Katherine Korte, Felix Nuñez, Peter Sanchez, and Greg Snyder.
Candidates for District 4, besides Esquivel and Archuleta, are Cheryl Ann Harris and Charles MacQuigg.
Peña, Sanchez and Snyder were not at Saturday's forum.
Early voting for the election has begun, and will continue through Jan. 28. Polls are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Early voting sites are the APS Building at 6400 Uptown Blvd. NE, the County Clerk's Annex at 620 Lomas Blvd. NW, Coors Plaza at 3200 Coors Blvd. NW (Suite A), the BT Portable on the campus of CNM at 1401 Basehart Road SE, and Rio Rancho City Hall at 3200 Civic Center Circle NE in Rio Rancho.
Another forum, sponsored by APS and the League of Women Voters, is scheduled for Jan. 13 at 6 p.m. at Albuquerque Public Schools headquarters.