Albuquerque Public Schools officials announced that they will be implementing a new plan this year which will divide the district into smaller areas to respond to their differing challenges. The APS Learning Zone plan will split the district into four areas, each serving up to 40 schools and up to 22,000 students. Each zone will be overseen by an associate superintendent, who will provide support and services to the schools on a daily basis. School officials say the new plan will allow for better specialization in the “learning zones” by identifying each zone's distinct needs and implementing area-specific programs to better serve those needs. Officials also say the new plan will give parents a more direct line of communication with school leadership through their zone's associate superintendent. Zone 1, in the southeast, will be led by Associate Superintendent Dr. Gabriella Blakey. Zone 2, in the southwest, will be led by Associate Superintendent Dr. Antonio Gonzales. Zone 3, in the northwest, will be led by Associate Superintendent Yvonne Garcia. Zone 4, in the northeast, will be led by Associate Superintendent Troy Hughes.
Judge Invalidates Governor's Vetoes
Earlier this year, Gov. Susana Martinez caused a stir with lawmakers when she vetoed numerous bills after a tense 60-day legislative session. The governor has the power to veto bills that have been passed by the state Legislature, but in June the Legislative Council filed a lawsuit against Martinez, claiming that the governor overstepped her bounds by vetoing the bills without explaining her objections. According to the lawsuit, her lack of communication with lawmakers violates the state constitution. First Judicial District Judge Sarah Singleton agreed with the council and ruled in their favor, overturning 10 of Martinez' vetoes—including a bill to expand hemp research and one to provide financial assistance to medical students. The judgment orders Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver to chapter the bills into law once the final paperwork is submitted. The process is expected to last no more than three weeks, but the governor's office will be able to appeal the decision.
Closures Caused by Bear Activity
A number of bear sightings in the Sandia Mountains led to the US Forest Service announcing closures for some picnic sites in the area. Although officials say an increase in reported bear sightings isn’t unusual for the season, one particular encounter last week caused concern when an adult male bear reportedly approached a picnic site and was “huffing and puffing” at visitors, according to a ranger from the Sandia Ranger District. Closures include the picnic grounds at Sulphur Canyon, Cienega Canyon and Doc Long, Trail 148 at Cienega Spring, Trail 196 at Bill Spring, Trail 281 at Sulphur Canyon and Trail 266 at Horse Bypass. The closures will remain in place until the end of October unless conditions change. Officials would like to remind hikers and campers to never leave food or other sweet-smelling items like toiletries or lotions out overnight, properly clean and store grills after use, keep campsites clean and never attempt to feed bears.