Created: 08/11/2014 6:28 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4
The first day of school for more than 80,000 Albuquerque Public Schools students is Wednesday, and the district still has 170 vacant teaching positions.
That may sound like a lot, but APS has well over 6,000 teachers and the vacancies are less than 3% of the total, and school officials said they have more than enough applicants to fill those jobs.
Bilingual education teacher Angie Portillo was busy preparing for a tidal wave Monday. Her bilingual education classroom at Lowell Elementary will be full of first-graders Monday morning and she will be ready.
“We are ready for them to come back,” Portillo said while filling and stacking folders. “The room is ready and now we’re getting homework files ready for them – homework folders – getting all their pencils organized.”
The hallway floors all over APS are getting washed and waxed, ready for 87,000 pairs of dusty kid shoes. School staffers are stacking textbooks in the classrooms, even though 170 of them won’t have a regular teacher in them until later in the week.
“ What teachers want first and foremost is to get hired before that first day with the kids so they can prepare their classroom and be ready when those students walk in,” said Ellen Bernstein, president of the Albuquerque Teachers Federation and herself a veteran teacher. “That’s essential. It’s essential for the teachers, the principals, and most importantly for the students.”
To make up for any teacher shortage APS will use some substitutes, and some other teachers will temporarily have to give up preparation periods to pitch in. The real solution, everybody knows, is to fill those vacancies. 77 of the 170 vacancies are in Special Education.