ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — A fight is brewing between the school board and the Albuquerque teachers' union regarding the new policy change that forbids APS employees, who are also legislators, from collecting their school salaries when serving in the Roundhouse.
"I would hope the union would think twice before they go to the mat for something like this," said board member Kathy Korte.
At issue is the board's decision last week to change district policy.
For teachers, like Rep. Tim Lewis, and counselors, Sen. Bernadette Sanchez, taking pay was allowed because it was worked into their union contracts.
Superintendent Winston Brooks and school board members said all APS employees should be treated the same. Board member Korte also said teachers should not be leaving their classes in the hands of substitutes for a month or two at a time.
After much debate, the board decided no APS employee should be paid when they head off to Santa Fe.
"We're paying for substitutes. We're paying for an APS employee to be away from their job and plus the state is paying per diem. We're asking taxpayers to foot the bill three times," said Korte.
But union president Ellen Bernstein said the board left the union out of the negotiating process.
"They can make any rule. They can break any rule. That's not our agreement," said Bernstein. "(The board) seems to think they have all the power and that they can disrespect us and we can just lie down and take it. That's not what we do."
Bernstein said if the union and board can't come to a contract agreement by January, then the current contract still holds. That means teachers who legislate in Santa Fe could still take paid leave from APS while collecting their state per diem.
The policy change would only affect two APS employees, Stapleton and Lewis. But Lewis has vowed not to take his APS salary in January. Sanchez is not running for re-election.
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New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the U.S. Inhabited by Native American populations for many centuries, New Mexico has also been part of Imperial Spain, part of Mexico, and a U.S. territory.