Superintendent Candidate Interviews March 1-5: TUNE IN!

APS has released the superintendent interview schedule. Candidates will answer community questions from 6:00-7:00pm on their designated night. Afterwards, the Board will interview each candidate from 7:15pm to 8:30pm. You can tune in on APS’s YouTube. Here is the schedule:

  • Bolgen Vargas, Self-Employed Consultant and former Superintendent for Rochester City School District in New York (Bolgen Vargas Application (PDF)) on Thursday, March 4th
  • Ushma Shah, Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Schools, Instruction and Equity, for School District U-46 in Elgin, IL (Ushma Shah Application (PDF)) on Friday, March 5th

The Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education selected four finalists for the job of APS Superintendent on February 5, 2021 following three days of interviews. The superintendent search that started more than a year ago was interrupted by the pandemic. As winter turns to spring, our Board is poised to make a choice. As union members and guardians of public education, we must be vigilant and we must lend our voices so that our concerns are heard.

In our recent Superintendent Survey, ATF members were united in their desires for particular qualities in the next leader for our district. Educators nearly unanimously had the following things to say (98-99% of respondents agreed with these statements).

Educators believe our next superintendent should:

  • Hold administrators accountable for a positive work-site culture.
  • Track staff turnover in the district, and at individual sites, and use that information to focus on retention strategies for every employee group.
  • Demand accountability for each and every APS department to have a service to-schools (and employees) orientation, provide timely and accurate responses, and be respectful in their interactions.
  • Improve communication between district departments and improve the communication flow from district administration to practitioners and vice versa.
  • Ensure that there is a pervasive customer (i.e. employee) service orientation in each department and department personnel have an attitude that central office is there to support schools, not the other way around.
  • Support strong, site-based shared leadership, the creation of innovative schooling models, and teacher autonomy to use innovative methods and materials to engage students.
  • Address workload issues. (For some time, educators have described their workload as “unmanageable.” Many teachers report frustration about tasks that do not directly inform teaching and learning or improve outcomes for children.)
  • Promote and advocate for our district.
  • Focus on supportive and positive employee working conditions.
  • Provide schools with individualized supports and resources based on the unique needs of students.
  • Be a strong manager—or hire one.
  • Collaborate and innovate with the employees’ unions.
  • Execute proactive public relations.

Educators believe that the next superintendent should work to create a system of  schools rather than a school system

Educators believe that the next superintendent should work to create a system of  schools rather than a school system. In a system of schools, the central office and offshoots of the centralized administration know that they are there to support the employees who work every day with students. This is very different from the traditional “school system” where employees are viewed as being there to support the work of the district’s central office.

Our next superintendent will inherit a district in which we have a tradition of labor/management collaboration at the district and the school level. Educators believe that the next superintendent must support the growth of school and classroom autonomy.

Bearing that in mind, the four finalists chosen to fill the superintendent’s role are:

The APS Board is asking the community to submit questions the finalists will answer in upcoming public forums. They will present the candidates to the public via virtual community forums the first week of March.

ATF members, please attend these community forums if you can. We will send exact dates and time when we get them. In the meantime please submit your questions for the candidates through the online submission form by Monday, February 22, 2021, at 5 p.m.

The Board cautioned, “While we will not be able to ask all questions that are submitted, we will do our best to cover the most important topics related to your questions”.

As an example, ATF President Ellen Bernstein’s questions are:

  • Have you ever heard of the concept, “top-down support for bottom-up change?” What does that mean to you? Do you embrace that concept?
  • Since our union surveyed educators last year, two concepts we did not ask about have become an essential focus of our work as educators: (1) public schools are the cornerstones of democracy in the United States and must serve as training grounds for informed, participatory decision-making; and (2) Education is the best tool to dismantle racism. What is your vision for how our schools can become more democratic and fully anti-racist?

APS educators, it’s time to chime in!

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