Albuquerque Public Schools has added 10 extra days to the academic school year.
The APS Board of Education voted 5-1 in favor of the addition at their meeting on Wednesday, April 5. Before the vote, a calendar committee comprised of district, school and union staff surveyed staff and parents in the community. The majority of the responses in both cases were in favor of an extended learning calendar when 29 schools extended the 2022-23 academic year, according to the APS website.
The change will apply to elementary and middle schools in the district, according to the APS website.
Prior to this decision, 11 APS elementary schools participated in the Transformal Model Pilot Program that extended the school year by 10 days and lengthened school days by 90 minutes. This program is meant to give more development time to teachers and students, according to the APS website.
Andrea Reyes, the behavior re-director at Mary Ann Binford Elementary School, works with students who need support with behavior to succeed in their classes. Reyes does not agree with the school board’s decision to add more days to Transformational Opportunity Pilot Schools like Mary Ann Binford, which already have an extended calendar, but she does think that traditional schools could benefit.
“TOPS schools already have 10 extra days for professional development implemented to our school calendars. With the school board's decision, (this) will result in having 16 extra days the following school calendar year,” Reyes said. “Instead of extra days, we can do longer days and have Fridays with no students on-site.”
Instead of the typical schedule which started Aug. 10, school will now begin at the affected schools on Aug. 4; the last day is June 1 instead of May 25. This adds over a week of school to the calendar and cuts fall break by a day, according to the schedule. The change also keeps school open during Election Day, as well as shortening the vernal holiday break to one day. Winter breaks and spring breaks will be extended, however.
APS seventh grade student Leeah Gomez said she doesn’t like the change, and she would rather have smaller classes than more days.
“I get distracted easily, and it’s hard for me to learn when there are so many kids,” Gomez said. “I would rather have more time in the summer. Summer prepares me for the new school year.”
Ninth grade APS student DeeDee Solis said that, even though she isn’t personally affected by the change, students would benefit more from teachers who care for students and their needs, like her English teacher.
“My English teacher makes her class more enjoyable, and it makes me want to learn and attend her class,” Solis said.
The extension comes on the heels of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and signing House Bill 130 which added a total of 1,140 hours and four additional instructional days to the requirements for K-12.
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As part of the TOPS program, students at Mary Ann Binford this year stayed at school an extra hour compared to previous years. Reyes believes this is a better solution.
“Our educators will be able to teach and support our students Monday through Thursday for a longer day, and have Friday for professional development, prep and other miscellaneous duties we have to complete,” Reyes said.
Miyawni Curtis is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MiyawniCurtis