The Albuquerque Teachers Federation is calling for the state's Public Education Department to speed up its background review process for hiring teachers.
According to KOB4, ATF president Ellen Bernstein and state Sen. Mimi Stewart have criticized PED after it was discovered that 130 Albuquerque Public Schools applicants are still waiting for their background checks to clear. This news comes during a statewide teacher shortage in which APS reports it still needs to fill 191 teaching positions.
PED secretary Christopher Ruszkowski told reporters last week that Stewart and APS leaders were “misinforming the public,” and that many of the pending applications were incomplete when submitted. “All properly completed release forms that had completed applications and background checks have been returned to APS,” he said. If applications are complete upon delivery, PED says it takes about two weeks to receive a response from the department.
The district says 35 of the 130 applications were for teaching positions.
Licensing Regulations Relaxed
Governor Susana Martinez issued an executive order earlier this month that instructed state agencies to ease requirements for certain occupational licenses, but has yet to clarify which occupations will be affected.
The governor's stated goal was to make entering the state's workforce easier by “reducing artificial barriers to enter the workforce, such as testing, experience and education for entry-level positions.” Albuquerque Journal reports it was signed before a list of affected professions was completed, however, and the task is being left up to the 34 boards and commissions listed in the order.
The boards—which include those overseeing acupuncture, architecture, engineers and massage therapy among others—will make their decisions based on what professions require licenses according to state statutes.
The order does not apply to professions in the medical field or tattoo artists, which require licenses by law.
Westside Maintenance Facility to be Built
City officials have announced plans to construct a new maintenance facility at the Westside landfill with the hope of making the city's waste collection operations more efficient.
According to KRQE, city leaders believe the $1.5 million project will make traffic lighter, save taxpayers money and reduce the city's carbon footprint. Mayor Tim Keller told reporters last month that around a third of the city's waste comes from the Westside, “yet we have trucks that are driving into the central part of Albuquerque, then driving back out to the Westside, then driving to the dump out here, then coming back,” he said.
The new facility will be built at the Cerro Colorado Landfill. Once the facility is operating, the Westside collection fleet will park their trucks at the landfill overnight, which should significantly reduce drive times.
The facility will be paid for with funds originally earmarked for the Edith transfer station, a project that the mayor canceled earlier this year.