A quality education is important, and some would say a key factor, for success in life. Whether looking for a school for your child or yourself, Albuquerque has a solid foundation for all of your educational needs.
Public and private schools are located throughout the city and several charter schools can also be found in the area. These facilities provide an atmosphere where children and young adults can interact with each other while enjoying the learning experience.
Higher education can be found in the form of colleges, universities and trade schools. These state of the art facilities prepare their students for the careers they have chosen to pursue and give them the confidence they need to excel in their fields.
ALBUQUERQUE PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT
The Albuquerque Public School (APS) district is the largest in New Mexico and the 30th largest district in the United States, with over 89,000 students, 14,000 employees and 139 schools. It serves the residents of Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, Corrales, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, Tijeras, San Antonito, and Edgewood. Also included in the district are Laguna and Isleta pueblos, Chilili, Tohajiilee, and the Atrisco Land Grant.
APS has a total budget of more than $1 billion and is the city’s second largest employer. There are 6,500 full-time teachers and their annual individual salary average is around $47,000, making them some of the highest paid public school teachers in the country.
A source of pride for APS is the inclusion of a few new and modern facilities. Over the last five years, the district has built nine elementary schools, one middle school, two high schools, and one alternative school. The inclusion of these schools brings the average age of the facilities in the district to 42 years old.
The district is governed by a seven-member elected school board who sets policies and also hires the superintendent.
There are many questions when it comes to finding a new school. This decision should not only involve careful research, but getting feedback from your child as well. Some tips to learn more about potential schools include:
Contact the School
One way to learn about a school is to contact the district by phone or by emailing a representative. If the school has a website it will be a valuable source of information and should provide school district statistics and information on the curriculum.
Word of Mouth
An often overlooked way to locate a new school is by talking to people in the area. Friends and colleagues that already have a child in a district or private school in the area can be very helpful when it comes time for you to place a child in school.
If the school that you are investigating shows promise, schedule a visit. Be prepared to follow up with more interviews and an evaluation of your child. Bring a list of written questions and be sure to ask about student-teacher ratios, computer availability, extracurricular activities, sports programs, music programs, and gifted programs. Do not be afraid to ask how students are graded and how these results are reported.
After all of your research is done talk to your child about the schools you like. Ask them what they liked about the schools and what they didn’t. Your child’s ability to adapt to a new environment is largely dependant on how comfortable they are with the surroundings.
A lot of families are turning to private schools for the education of their children. If you feel that a private school is more to your liking the local phonebook will contain several options. If you have access to the internet, please visit www.greatschools.org to get current listings of schools in your area. Keep in mind that although a good private school can cost thousands of dollars each year some may offer scholarships. Be sure to check if your child meets any of the requirements for financial assistance before settling on a private school.
Like most major cities, Albuquerque has charter schools available for your child’s educational needs. One of the first steps on deciding whether or not to send your child to a charter school is to understand the difference between a traditional public school and a charter school.
Charter schools offer an alternative choice to traditional schools and operate outside the normal sphere of influence that governs public schools, which includes the district board of education. Many people prefer sending their children to this type of learning environment because of the amount of accountability that charter schools have.
It is this accountability that many proponents believe is the key to a successful school. If the school fails to live up to the goals established in its charter then it can be closed. This kind of pressure pushes educators and students to excel.
The schools are funded like district and public schools, based on enrollment, and cannot charge tuition. Students are admitted on a first-come, first served basis and sometimes a lottery is held when there are more applicants than available slots. A waiting list is not uncommon for charter schools that have an excellent reputation.
PRIVATE & INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS
With their many advantages, a lot of families are turning to private schools for the education of their children. These schools tend to offer less crowded classrooms and more one-on-one time between faculty and students.
Paid tuition generally means these types of school have better academic programs and can sponsor higher quality extracurricular groups and activities. Statistically, private high schools have lower drop-out rates and also a higher percentage of college bound students.
Many public school systems are hampered with bureaucracy and miles of red tape, sometimes it can take several semesters or administrations for changes to take place. Private schools are on a much tighter budget and are more streamlined in efficiency for dealing with issues.
Some critics might claim that the lack of diversity in private schools leads to a linear education without any exposure to different socio-economic classes, but supporters of the private school system point out that the opportunities afforded to their children outweigh such downfalls.
Albuquerque has many private schools available for your child’s educational needs. As with any school, research should be done before making any firm commitments and questions should be asked of the teachers and administrators.
Space availability will be one of the biggest deciding factors when looking at private schools. Many of the best private schools in the area have long waiting lists or very strict entrance criteria for potential students. If you are determined to have your child in a private school try to remember that it might take some time to place them.
Things To Consider When Looking For A School
- Co-educational or single sex student body
- Culturally diverse student body
- Arts programs available (music, art, drama)
- Class size
- Availability of before and after school care
- Level of parental participation expected
- Student dress code
- Competitive athletic program and age/scholastic requirements for participation
- Approach to discipline
- Tuition structure, availability of scholarships, etc.
- Teaching techniques (Montessori, etc.)
- Non-graded or graded program
- Foreign Language in curriculum
- Proximity to neighborhood or workplace
- Transportation options
- Availability of special education needs such as learning disability instruction, wheelchair accessibility, gifted programs, etc.
BEFORE & AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAMS
A well-rounded education means, to a lot of students and parents before and after school programs. These programs and specialized classes often provide another social aspect to education while also offering hands on activities for interested participants.
Expanding on the resources available, many of these programs are offered in the schools themselves, while others are offered off campus through the use of grants or by non-profit organizations.
DAY CARE CENTERS & PRESCHOOLS
Parents need to have reliable child care that can ensure their children will not only be safe, but also have a peaceful learning environment where they can interact with other kids.
The choice of a day care and preschool are decisions that should not be made lightly. The early development of your child is important, and these places offer an environment where social skills can be developed among group learning activities.
Albuquerque has several day cares and preschools from which to choose. Specialized facilities such as these can be expensive, and it is always recommended that parents thoroughly investigate an establishment before enrolling their children.
The following checklists will help to ensure that you are getting the best quality care possible for your child.
- Is the license displayed in a visible location?
- Are separate spaces available for different age groups?
- Is the quality and number of toys and materials sufficient for the number of children in the classroom?
- Are the toys and materials learning aids appropriate for the different age groups?
- Do the furnishings in the classrooms cater to children in appearance and size?
- Are there any obvious hazards (electrical cords, chemicals, uncovered electrical outlets, cleaning materials, or medications) accessible to the children?
- Are fire extinguishers on site and out of reach of children?
- Are emergency evacuation plans posted?
- Are the sinks and bathrooms stocked with appropriate supplies?
- Is your initial reaction upon entering the child care center a positive one?
- Is there enough space available for children to play?
- Weather permitting, will the children have adequate outside time each day?
- Is the outside area clean and safe?
- Is there an assortment of outside play equipment?
- Is the outdoor equipment in good condition?
- Are children being properly supervised while outside?
- Is there shade available outside where the children play?
- Do children interact with their appropriate age group?
- Are the child care providers playing with the children?
- Does the facility use the outside area for learning activities as well as playing?
- Are daily activities posted and current?
- Is there a good child-to-staff ratio?
- Do the activities taking place seem age appropriate for the children involved?
- Do child care providers follow all sanitary procedures?
- Are children allowed to make choices throughout the day?
- Do the children seem to be enjoying their activities?
- Are conflicts handled in a positive manner?
- Does it seem like the care providers are patient and receptive to the needs of children?
- Is the method of communication between the care providers and parents acceptable?
- If you were a child, would you want to spend your day at this center?
- Are parents allowed to drop in and visit at anytime?
- Are the meals and snacks provided at the facility nutritious?
- Is there a high degree of parent involvement encouraged?
- Are there children with special needs enrolled in the facility?
- Do any care providers have additional training for special needs children?
- Does the center participate in the subsidized child care program?
- Do the hours of operation and holiday schedule accommodate your schedule?
- Does the facility charge when a child is out sick or on vacation?
- Is there a late pick-up fee charge?
- Does the cost of care include meals and snacks?
- Does the facility offer transportation?
- Do all staff members have current CPR and First Aid certification?
- How much TV are the children allowed to watch?
- What are the disciplinary methods used?
- How are nap times handled?
- What kind of security measures does the facility have?
- What is the center’s policy for sick child care?
- What is the center’s policy for administering medications?
- Are there any additional activities like music or dance offered?
- Do any employees on staff have degrees in Child Development or Education?