Community hears from APS superintendent candidates

Community hears from APS superintendent candidates 10 p.m.

Albuquerque Public Schools’ staff are hearing from the district's two candidates for superintendent.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Albuquerque Public Schools’ staff are hearing from the district’s two candidates for superintendent.

The search began after Superintendent Scott Elder announced he was retiring this year.

Early Tuesday, both candidates answered questions from the community and students.

A student panel asked candidates Thomas Ahart and Gabriella Durán Blakey several questions ranging from more options for lunch, more after school activities, improving math scores and more.

Some questions students had overlapped with what the community wanted answered. For example, they wanted to know what measures Durán Blakey and Ahart would take to make sure there are equal opportunities for all students regardless of race or language.

“The first step that I would need to take especially not, not being privy to this area, is making sure that I understand through building relationships and how to communicate with the students as well as their families exactly what their priorities are, but also where they feel like we’re not quite hitting the mark,” said Ahart. 

“Part of what we need to do is encourage more students to be proud of who they are, and to provide the opportunities for them to be able to succeed in school, and to see it as an asset. Because who you are as a person and who I am as a person it’s an asset to our community. And it’s it should never be seen as a barrier or something that you’d have to overcome,” said Durán Blakey. 

Community members submitted over 2,000 questions and APS narrowed it down to 12.

Some of those questions also included safety with an attention to gun violence, working with the community and the teacher’s federation, dealing with the teacher shortage, and more.

One of the community questions asked both candidates what plans they have to make students and staff feel safer, especially when it comes to gun violence.

Ahart mentioned having things like metal detectors might not make students feel safe. He emphasized having an anonymous place students and staff could report any concerns.

Durán Blakey said one of the first things they need to do is acknowledge the issue. She emphasized addressing mental health needs and increasing the See Something, Say Something Initiative.

A student panel asked both candidates how they can better staff school counselors so they can meet with students more often.

The APS board will interview each candidate. From there, we could know who the district’s next leader is as early as Wednesday night.

The APS forum has concluded. People can watch the full forum on YouTube here.