Albuquerque chooses new school board members

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The ballots are in. Albuquerque has selected its new school board members. Here are the unofficial results:

Analee Maestas will keep her seat with 72 percent of the vote in district one. In district four, retired teacher Barbara Peterson will take over. Up against four challengers, she took home 63 percent of the vote. In what was perhaps the most hotly contested race – the fight for district two – outspoken member Kathy Korte lost her seat to Peggy Muller-Aragon. Muller-Aragon beat her out with 63 percent of the vote.

Korte took to her election Facebook page after her defeat. There, she thanked her supporters and addressed what she describes as harmful education policies that are hurting children, schools and teachers.

She says, “one person at a time, we will continue to inform parents about the flawed education policies that are coming out of Santa Fe.”

Voter turnout was low; the Bernalillo County Clerk says less than 8,000 people cast their vote for APS and CNM board members. That’s less than 3 percent of eligible voters, which is the norm for school board elections. One retiring school board member sees the low turnout as a contradiction.

“Everyone has an opinion on public education, but no one goes out and votes,” says Marty Esquivel.

So why not have those elections on days when people are more likely to cast a ballot – alongside a governor or mayor’s race? The state constitution doesn’t allow it. It dictates school board elections must be held on a different day than other elections.

Attempts to change the law fell short in both 2008 and 2014.

Yet, for those who voted, their ballots carried a lot of weight. The board has a big decision to make this year.

The Albuquerque school board only has three duties and one of them could make a significant difference in the way the largest school district in the state operates.

The board is tasked with setting policy, approving and overseeing the district’s $1.3 billion budget and, this year, choosing a new superintendent.

That superintendent will lead a district of close to 88,000 students and taxpayers will fork over several hundred thousand dollars to pay for it.

City Councilor Brad Winter took over as interim superintendent when the last super – Winston Brooks – resigned amidst controversy.

APS says they wanted to have this new board in place so that incoming members would have a say in the superintendent decision.

Even though turnout was minimal, that doesn’t mean the election was cheap. It costs $500,000 to hold the election, that means taxpayers essentially spent $65 per vote.

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