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          Front Page




APS Board Could Grow

By Amy Miller
Journal Staff Writer
    West Side and South Valley residents could have more representation on the Albuquerque school board if voters amend the state constitution.
    State Sen. Bernadette Sanchez, D-Albuquerque, has introduced a joint resolution in the Legislature proposing that voters amend the constitution so school districts with more than 200,000 residents have nine school board members instead of seven.
    Albuquerque Public Schools is the only district in the state that meets that criterion.
    Sanchez said she introduced the resolution because she believes West Side and South Valley residents are underrepresented on the board.
    It's harder for those residents to have direct access to their board members, she said, and that has helped fuel debate about splitting APS into two districts.
    "At least this could be a temporary solution," Sanchez said. "I certainly don't think it's the ultimate solution."
    It would also help improve student performance, Sanchez said, "because there's a little more accountability."
    APS administrators and school board members said they support the resolution, which would go before voters either during a special election or during the next general election in 2008.
    If voters approve the constitutional amendment, it's possible the two additional board members could be elected in February 2009, APS spokesman Joseph Escobedo said.
    Boundaries for all the school board members' districts would be redrawn, he said.
    West Side board member Robert Lucero said that not having enough West Side representation has made it harder to get schools built there, despite overwhelming growth. Having another West Side board member might change that, he said.
    "It's always been a battle," Lucero said. "Something needs to be done. There's no question about it."