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#abq4ward: Candidates discuss how they would work with APS

KOB.com Web Staff
September 26, 2017 07:05 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- At the #abq4ward Town Hall, voters had the chance to ask candidates many of the questions on their minds.

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KOB4 is working to get responses to many of the questions that did not make television that night. Here is how candidates answered one of them, about the city and its relationship with the Albuquerque Public Schools district:

QUESTION: "There appears to be a lack of adequate communication and coordination between the school system and the office of the mayor. Both entities influence our city's future. How would you, if elected, increase cooperation between the school district and the mayor's office?"

CANDIDATE RESPONSES, ALPHABETICALLY BY LAST NAME:

RICARDO CHAVES:

I want all citizens to have full and open access to the mayor's office, and certainly want to have clear and open channels of communication with the school district. I also want to respect the independence and separate role the school district plays, apart from the city and its budget. As mayor, I will meet regularly with school district officials to discuss ways in which we can work together and how I, as mayor, can show support for children and their educational goals.

Learn more: http://chavesformayor.com/

BRIAN COLON:

Education is a very personal issue to me. The Mayor's office must establish increased communication, coordination and cooperation with Albuquerque Public Schools.  Our community deserves a first-class educational system that engages our students and provides the skills needed in the 21st Century.  Albuquerque families deserve no less.

As Mayor, I will work directly with APS and immediately appoint a Chief Education Officer (CEO).  The CEO will report directly to the Mayor and work directly with the APS superintendent in reforming policies within the district. The Mayor's office can no longer accept incremental change and ineffective policies-- innovation will be demanded and unyielding excellence will be the standard of the future.

The City of Albuquerque writes a check to APS with two commas in it annually. The Mayor deserves a say in our educational system to insure young residents achieve their maximum potential. The Mayor's office can exhibit and exercise leadership through support of public schools, assist with effective alternatives for students who struggle in traditional school settings, help increase high school graduation rates, and promote college access and completion.

I will also lean into the education conversation at the state level.  The more rural parts of our metro area need the benefits of early childhood development. That only happens with a statewide approach and I am in favor of looking to the state's permanent fund to establish the necessary resources for early childhood development.

We must create paths to success that focus on the needs of an ever-changing work environment by placing significant emphasis on timely graduation and the study of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields. My wife immigrated here from the Philippines and teaches at Van Buren Middle School in the International District. She is a Math Teacher with a deep commitment to STEM education with involvement in activities such as RoboRave and similar competitions.

As Mayor, I will promote and expand our Smart City/STEM Education/UNM/CNM resources to educate and train smarter, more educated workers. Such an environment will boost workers' productivity and generate more technological improvements leading to both short-term and long-term growth. 

We will also prioritize investments in workforce training by aligning with other economic development efforts and private investment so that job-seekers are being trained for jobs with a future in Albuquerque. We will focus on connecting job seekers in Albuquerque to workforce training for in-demand skills that employers need to fill jobs now. Extension programs will be expanded to focus on adult learning, professional certifications, and employer-sponsored job training to increase the productivity of workers. By expanding training programs in many career fields, workers develop applied skills and gain certifications which result in higher pay. Our city must continue to strongly support Talent ABQ in assisting workers in gaining certifications of skills across Albuquerque.

It is time to stop giving the Mayor a "hall pass" on education. As the Mayor of Albuquerque it will be my goal to significantly improve our educational system and make our community economically competitive with cities across the country. The National League of Cities said it best, "a skilled and educated workforce is increasingly vital to a community's economic vitality." Our students need the skills to compete for jobs and it is the community's job to prepare students for the ever-changing work environment. Effective education and training is the key to economic opportunity and mobility for future generations. I am the product of public education and I succeeded because our community provided opportunities. We need to visualize an educational system of tomorrow for the City of Albuquerque.

Learn more: https://www.colonformayor.com/

MICHELLE GARCIA HOLMES:

Education has been a huge topic at all of the forums. I think it's really important to have a mayor that understands the legislative process. In my city attorney's office I plan on having a legislative liaison that works with the public school system and works on other issues, legislative issues, funding that we can bring to Albuquerque, new bills, new laws. The second thing I want to do is put together an education task force that works together and collaborates with APS to do the very best for our children and our community.  Our graduation rates are very very slow and I know we can do better. So collaborating with APS as a mayor, being an outspoken mayor, and working on the legislative process to try to get more educational funding for Albuquerque is going to be very, very important. The other thing I'm going to do as a mayor is I'm going to support the before and after school programs that the mayor's office already funds,  and work on our summer programs at our community centers. I think it's very important for our kids to have music in their lives, for them to understand how to study. I think study halls are going to be very important at the before and after school programs at our community centers. I think it would be helpful for our students, and our parents.

Michelle Garcia Homes also posted a video on this topic on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/michelle4abqmayor/videos/358076877939110/

Learn more: http:/ /www.michelle4mayor.org/

WAYNE JOHNSON:

Community schools is a bright spot in our educational picture here in Albuquerque. The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Community Schools Partnership is a partnership between the city, county, APS, United Way, Hispano Chamber of Commerce, and UNM. Its board is made up of representatives from the business community, UNM, non-profits, three commissioners, two councilors, a representative of the mayor, two school board members, and the APS Superintendent. We work together to solve problems outside of each school that affect learning inside the classroom. As mayor, I will sit on this board personally in order to create relationships, improve communications, and align the resources of the city with the efforts of our partners at the county, business community, non-profits, and APS.

ABC Community Schools has had a number of successes improving outcomes for students and it's an organization built on the very kind of collaboration that this community desperately needs.

Learn more: http://votewaynejohnson.com/

TIM KELLER:

When it comes to coordinating with APS, our city has tried long and hard for decades having different positions work with APS, lots of task forces and things like this, I think we've got to move past that. We've got to do something real and actually step up for our kids. So what I propose is using our Parks and Rec department to help coordinate all the different nonprofits involved and APS and say, how can we actually have comprehensive extracurriculars for our kids every day after school and over the summer? That means providing sports, music, arts, even coding camp and nursing apprenticeship programs. That's how we can actually step up for our kids and actually do something meaningful to help APS.

Tim Keller also provided KOB with a video response: http://www.kob.com/politics-news/tim-keller-on-aps/4613708/

Learn more: http://www.tk4abq.com/

DAN LEWIS:
OUR STUDENTS MUST BE OUR HIGHEST SPECIAL INTEREST.

APS (Albuquerque Public School) District badly needs radical repair to re-prioritize what is best for our kids, their teachers, and their families who entrust our school system with their lives and hopes for the future. Now is the time to take apart this large unaccountable school district and replace it with a system that puts the academic needs of our students first.
That is why I support the growing movement to break up APS into smaller, accountable, efficient, and more local districts, closer to the families they serve. Many cities roughly Albuquerque's size have as many as a dozen, separate school districts and perform well.

Rio Rancho Public Schools (RRPS) is a case in point. The RR school district was originally carved out of APS and is consistently one of the top performing districts in the state, while APS–which annually spends at least twice what RR does per student–has some of the worst graduation and student performance ratings in New Mexico.
It's way past time the elected mayor and officials of our city get their hands dirty, and help fix a broken system and school board that are shortchanging Albuquerque's children and their futures.

Learn more: http://www.lewisabq.com/

GUS PEDROTTY:

The gist of the City bolstering education in our community comes down to how we cooperate City resources to complement schools and fill in the cracks, so the governing/communicating body should reflect that cooperation. Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Community Schools (ABC-CC) model is an effective one, as it provides better resources and opportunities to students and their families.  The Joint-Powers Agreement that ABC-CC works under is, I believe, a successful and productive relationship. The Public-Private Partnerships behind ABC-CC are tremendously successful, but we still don't see this model at every school. To be clear, ABC-CC is the model we want to bolster and modify so that it is in every school and adequately providing resources toward each area's needs.

The City needs to step up to do more for education though, and one clear way to do this is to better cooperate our Department of Parks & Recreation so that programming and land usage complements and supports curriculum and fills in the academic calendar. This means the City's Parks & Rec department will have to have a larger stake in and clearer communication lines with the APS administration. This may be a special position, cooperating educational initiatives, or it could be diversified through a few positions within the department to share the workload and create more specialized decision makers. Alternatively, for the larger gaps to fill of summer and winter break, we could look towards having a similar Joint Powers Agreement with stakeholders to ensure the programming is effective, contextual, and diversified. Boards like these can represent larger pieces of infrastructure, increase the capacity of fundraising opportunity, and create more specialized persons to hold accountable. With Learning Zones now in place in APS, there are clear administrators we can work with to address specific communities and their needs - allowing for more intimate and immediately effective work. I plan to have extensive discussions with governing boards and department heads in my administration, so the Mayor's office would inherently be in the loop regarding goal-setting, needs, and outcomes, which will enable the City to directly support this initiative.

Lastly, the City should have in-roads and the ability to access Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) so that community concerns are easily heard and readily addressed. If we do not listen to those receiving the service directly, we will never truly know the impact these cooperative initiatives are having. Since ABC-CCs support the entire family unit, this would allow for increased ability to engage parents or families that may otherwise have not involved themselves in the governing bodies of this utility.

Learn more: http://www.gusformayor.com/

SUSAN WHEELER-DEICHSEL:
Susan Wheeler-Deichsel is consulting with friends and colleagues to formulate an answer to this question.

Learn more: https://susanforabq.com/

Credits

KOB.com Web Staff

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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