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          Front Page




Ladder Wouldn't Fit, So Brooks Got Escape

By Hailey Heinz
Of the Journal
          With taxpayers keeping an ever-sharper eye on Albuquerque Public Schools spending, it seemed like strange symbolism to some readers when Superintendent Winston Brooks was spotted in a 2010 Ford Escape provided by the district.
        It turns out Brooks never asked for the new ride. In fact, it was purchased for a maintenance worker who needed four-wheel drive to check antennas on Sandia Crest. He also needed a covered truck bed to keep his equipment dry.
        So APS bought him a new Escape, to the tune of $28,820 from capital (not operating) funds. When it arrived, he discovered it was a little small for all his equipment, which includes a ladder.
        So, time for a trade. Brooks had been driving a 2001 Ford Expedition, which was the largest vehicle in the fleet and perfect for hauling a ladder up into the mountains. As his superintendent duties seldom involve a ladder, Brooks took the smaller, newer SUV.
        The whispers are reaching a steady hum about who will be the next state education secretary. The most persistent name in the rumor mill is Stan Rounds, superintendent of Las Cruces Public Schools.
        "I know that my name is being widely rumored; I have no comment at this time," Rounds said in e-mail Wednesday. "As you know, the governor-elect will make her decision as she sees best."
        If Rounds isn't tapped for the job, there is talk that a reformer from outside New Mexico might be appointed.
        Governor-elect Susana Martinez's team is keeping mum.
        Danny Diaz, spokesman for the transition team, said only that the team "is working closely with the governor-elect to ensure that the folks that are named cabinet officials reflect the governor-elect's commitment to reforming education, increasing accountability and results in the classroom."
        Rumor suggests the announcement could happen as soon as next week. But Diaz said only that "an announcement will be made at the governor-elect's choosing."
        The APS school board is used to being scolded during the public forum that begins every board meeting. But last week's forum was characterized mostly by gratitude.
        Individuals, as well as groups such as Albuquerque Interfaith and El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos, spoke in support of the board's decision to strengthen the language of its policy that bans immigration officials from schools.
        "We urge the board to vote for (the policy) and enforce it, and to make that the culture of APS," said the Rev. Trey Hammond, a co-chair of Albuquerque Interfaith. "As a person of faith and as a believer in public education, I just think it's critical that we welcome the stranger into our midst."
        Board member David Peercy said he was overwhelmed by all the speakers, of whom some were students and some addressed the board in Spanish.
        "To tell you the truth, I really didn't give any thought to the fact that this is really the way it ought to be," he said. "I was appreciative of the fact that there are a lot of people out there who apparently know that it is not always that way."
       





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