Early voting starts Oct. 19 for local elections, including the Albuquerque Public Schools board. Its members are usually retired, as it’s an unpaid position with the time commitment of a part-time job. Those constraints led one board candidate to drop out of the race this fall.
Laura Carlson manages Workspace Dynamics, a commercial furniture dealership near Albuquerque’s Nob Hill. She’s got two young kids, one who attends Zia Elementary, and said she wanted to get on the board in part to improve the district’s communication with teachers and families.
“APS isn’t very good about vocalizing where their money does go," said Carlson, who worries that many parents don't understand the importance of the bond question on this November's ballot that would fund critical maintenance and capital improvements for schools.
The APS school board controls the $1.3 billion budget, votes on policies and hires the superintendent for the district of more than 82,000 students and 12,000 employees. Board members do not recieve compensation except for a $85 per diem for attending official board or committee meetings.
A couple weeks after filing with the Bernalillo County Clerk's office, Carlson attended an APS orientation, where Board Chair David Peercy advised candidates that board members have to spend 20-30 hours a week studying, talking to constituents and going to meetings.
That’s unreasonable for a parent who works a full-time job, Carlson said. She wishes the school board was set up to have more members than its current seven, with more diversity of experience.
"Just like with any board with any corporation or anything, you need people from all areas of business, from cultural areas, from everything, in order to have different insights to make big decisions," Carlson said.
By the time Carlson learned of the time requirements of board membership, it was past the County Clerk's deadline to withdraw from the ballot, but she urges APS District 4 voters to support one of the other two candidates.
KUNM will host a live conversation with school board candidates on Let’s Talk New Mexico on Thursday, Oct. 24 at 8 a.m. If you are a constituent of APS District 1, 2, or 4 and have a question you'd like to put to the candidates, email email@example.com.
Support for KUNM’s Public Health New Mexico project comes from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the McCune Charitable Foundation, and from KUNM listeners like you.