Albuquerque Public Schools is currently considering adding an extra hour to the elementary school day and 10 days to middle and high school calendars. Residents from northeast Albuquerque shared their thoughts on the issue over the past week.
Miguel Bedemesi, who has an eighth-grader at Madison Middle School and three children at Sombre Del Monte Elementary School, said: “It looks great because it will give the kids more time to have other activities like sports — like swimming, painting, music — just the way the middle school does it right now. So, if they send it to elementary schools, it will be great. It will also boost the teacher’s income for extra hours, from six to I think eight hours a day. So, that’s my thought.”
While watching his elementary school-aged grandson play soccer at Quintessence Park, Michael Velarde said: “I’m not totally versed on it because I haven’t really been up on that actually happening. I would probably be OK with that, but it doesn’t directly impact me. Again, I would have to look at all aspects. Does it reduce days? Reduce length of school year? Is it the same? So, there are a lot of variables I’d have to look at to really give a more versed answer.”
After watching her son play in a soccer game at Heritage Hills Park, Ivanna Becenti said: “I believe adding 10 days is better than adding more hours in the day for students. Having those instructional days to help students improve in the areas they need, especially for the students in low-income households, I believe it’ll be more beneficial for them. But overall, it’s a community effort. A lot of it also depends on the family’s home life supporting students and making sure they go to school every day because attendance is another issue that we need to focus on. So, if we don’t extend the school day, I feel like we need to make more of an effort to support families to make sure their students go to school every day and on time.”
McKinley Middle School sixth-grader Rory Becenti said: “I don’t really want extra days because it’s kind of stressful with me. I mean, I’m just stressed when I come out of school. So, yeah, I don’t really like extra days.”
Several students and educators also commented on the issue off the record with a variety of responses. A teacher at Georgia O’Keefe Elementary School said she wants the extra days because it will increase her income. Velarde also discussed some of the financial aspects of adding extra hours to the school year, saying teacher contracts will have to be renegotiated to receive higher pay and that schools will have to budget for increased use of utilities.
One retired educator said increasing school days and hours could be beneficial if they are used for community outreach projects and extracurricular activities, but not so much if they are just used for increasing the amount of time students have to spend testing and doing regular school assignments. Several middle and elementary school students said they were against any extra hours at school, but when pressed about increasing hours to participate in clubs and sports, some students were OK with the idea.