Teachers object to extending the school year


UPDATE: After pleas from teachers, the LCPS board voted not to extend the school year, possibly risking losing millions of dollars in funding.

ORIGINAL REPORT: LAS CRUCES, New Mexico — Overworked teachers at Las Cruces Public Schools are pleading that the district keep its existing calendar year, but school board members must vote to extend classroom time or risk losing millions of dollars in funding.

“I strenuously object to an extended school year because I’m a teacher,” Delilah Morales told the school board at a meeting Tuesday evening. “We’re wiped out.”

Districts across New Mexico are considering extending their school year to make up for learning loss due to the pandemic. If Las Cruces Public Schools does not require more time in the classroom, the district will risk losing $12 million.

“Everyone in the school system has had a challenging year,” said LCPS Board President Ray Jaramillo, who told ABC-7 he received hundreds of emails in opposition to the extension. “I’m not sure yet that community is ready for an extended calendar.”

“I don’t think we should focus on vacations and time off to accommodate education,” said Rene Robles, a parent in favor of more time in the classroom. “I think it’s up to us parents to do the opposite.”

The district has three options to vote on Tuesday evening:

  • OPTION A: Extend school year by 10 days for all students and extend the elementary school day by half hour
  • OPTION B: Extend older students’ school years by 10 days and the elementary school year by 25 days
  • OPTION C: Keep the school year length as it is and risk losing $12 million

As of Tuesday evening, the district had lost eight educators to Covid-19. Many staffers continue to grieve the loss of their leader, the late superintendent Karen Trujillo.

“Our teachers have experienced a lot of trauma and they do definitely need the time to heal,” said Denise Sheehan, the president of the teachers’ union.

“We need time to grieve,” agreed Morales.