East Mountain High School will be expanding to a 6-12 grade campus in the coming years following Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Supervisors approval this week.
It is something that has been in the works since October 2022, when the charter school’s Governing Council unanimously approved an amendment to eventually expand.
Since the approval of that amendment school officials have met with APS curriculum leaders, researched construction financing options, and faculty have developed departmental visions for a comprehensive 6-12 program.
During a meeting on Nov. 8, the APS Special Board of Education-Charter Schools met to hear and discuss the consideration to approve the amendment.
The meeting started with a public forum where members of the East Mountains community gave their thoughts on the proposal.
“With this expansion, we will empower even more young minds to become the problem solvers, creators, and leaders of tomorrow,” said Marie Booth, East Mountain science teacher.
With a majority of the community speakers being in support of the amendment, there were a few who spoke up on how they were against the possible approval of the amendment. “I am asking you not to approve the request to charter for East Mountain to create a middle school by their own admission in the board’s q&a. There has been no impact analysis completed concerning the negative impact to Roosevelt,” said Angela Lybarger, Roosevelt Middle School Parent.
Trey Smith, the school’s executive director, explained why East Mountain officials felt it was important to take this step.
Coming prepared with statistics that showed that not only is the school one of the top-performing high schools in the state, but that the expansion would help benefit the students if the district offered a school that had an easy curriculum transition from middle school to high school.
“EMHS has the highest graduation rate of any school in the area, despite the fact that our incoming ninth graders come from wildly different middle school expectations and curriculum,” Smith said. “Tonight is not about one middle school. It’s about the 28 different middle schools that we are attempting to align with. We look forward to offering an innovative sixth grade pathway directly aligned with the forward thinking leadership of our school’s mission.”
Following the statements from Smith, the board went into further discussion on why they were either for or against this amendment. However, when it came time to vote, the board voted 5 to 2 in favor of the amendment.
Board members Peggy Muller-Aragon (District 2), Danielle Gonzales (District 3), Crystal Tapia-Romero (District 5), Courtney Jackson (District 7), and Yolanda Montoya-Cordova (District 1) approved the move while Barbara Peterson (District 4) and Josefina Dominguez (District 6).
Even though the amendment was approved there will still be a lot to do before the school fully starts to cater to middle school students.
The expansion will cost roughly $12-$20 million dollars. The school will also not see the expansion until the 2026-27 school year.
“You start with the sixth-grade class of about 100 students,” said Smith on how many sixth graders would be enrolled in the school when the expansion is completed.