APS is set to receive $230 million from the Biden Administration’s American Rescue Plan. They are conducting a listening tour called “Change Into What?”. They are seeking community input on how to spend this massive, one-time infusion of funds. They have created a proposal that calls for spending tens of millions of dollars to combat “unfinished learning” which is a new term for “learning loss.”
This is a table of APS’s categories, their spending proposals, and their ranked priorities.
|APS ESSER III (ARPA) Spending Plan As of 8/19/21
|1||Unfinished Learning Initiatives||$80,090,508||$87,586,000|| 45.08%
|2||Safe Operation of Schools & Covid Costs||$40,045,254||$51,330,000|| 26.41%
|3||Facility Projects Related to Pandemic||$20,022,627||$28,331,200||14.58%|
|4||Technology Initiatives Related to Pandemic||$20,022,624||$20,000,000||10.28%|
|5||Social Emotional & Mental Health Services||$40,045,254||$ 7,069,243|| 3.59%
APS breaks each of these categories down to more basic line items. You can view their proposal document here.
Here are a couple of examples of the district’s stated priorities from the linked document.
APS lists Line 14 (10d) “Frequent Monitoring of Learning and Adjustment of Instruction” with a price tag of $3,575,000. What does this mean? Is this yet more testing? Is more frequent testing going to help staff and students have healthy and safe working and learning conditions?
A second example: Why would educators agree to the expenditure of $11.4 million- Line 5 “Expansion of Summer Learning Adventures”- in buildings that are too hot to finish “unfinished learning”?
Also, the current plan earmarks $194,316,443 of the $234.8 million dollars APS will receive. The plan seems to leave $41,494,413 unallocated. Where will this money go? In a time when students and staff are working in sweltering classrooms with inadequate HVAC, are these dollars to be swept into cash balances to save for a rainy day? It’s raining all right. It’s raining fire in the summer and ice in the winter INSIDE our classrooms.
This line of thinking threatens to ignore the realities of educators who are working in the trenches.
When your union, the Albuquerque Teachers Federation, is asked “Change Into What?”, our immediate answer is: “Change into a place where APS students and educators work and learn in conditions that are WELCOMING, HEALTHY & SAFE!”
Our union’s stated goal is to build a world-class education for all students in APS. This sounds like a lofty goal. So was building the pyramids. The key to building a pyramid, or any well-planned edifice, is to start with a solid foundation. For a model of how we can do this, we look to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which is often represented as a pyramid. We need to meet the basic needs of students and educators and then build upward.
Our union believes that it is unacceptable to condemn educators and students to suffering in sweltering classrooms in the summer months that become near-freezing classrooms in the winter. Our HVAC woes re-occur every year and we believe it is high time to solve these problems.
We know that students must have basic needs of shelter, food and emotional well-being met before they can learn and process new information. The current cooling situation is detrimental to students’ learning! We believe that a significant one-time investment of federal funds can set us on the course to meeting the basic, most-pressing needs of our students and staff.
For this reason, ATF has launched the Working Conditions Are Learning Conditions Campaign. We know that educators’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions. We need immediate investment in our schools and believe that APS’s current proposed priorities are upside down. We must lay a firm foundation for a highly functioning school system.
Here’s the plan for the campaign and how you can get involved:
Action 1: Sign the ATF Working Conditions Petition calling for spending on immediate relief for those educators and students whose HVAC systems are failing.
Action 2: Make sure that every APS employee at your site signs this petition.
Action 3: Fill out the survey: ATF’s Employee Priorities Survey. We need to hear your story and comments so that we can call for change with a collective voice.
Action 4: Register for the APS Change Into What? webinar at https://www.aps.edu/news/news-from-2021-2022/listening-tour-change-into-what and tell your truth to power! Here are the times:
- Tuesday, Aug. 31, at 10 a.m., 4 p.m., and 6:30 p.m., and again on
- Tuesday, Sept. 7, at 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Action 5: We will take our survey data and petition to the Listening Tour on September 7th and present it to the APS Board of Education at their meeting.
When we lift together, we can move mountains! JOIN YOUR UNION TODAY!