State of the School

Dear PAPA Community:

The beginning of the semester has been a lot of fun! It’s the time we get to reflect on what has been accomplished and what we hope to achieve in the future.

Academically, we celebrated the amazing progress our middle school students have made in the Title I standards-based mathematics program! We also celebrated an increase in the number of students taking Advanced Placement and Honors classes this year with 150 enrolled. There has also been an increase in high school students taking dual credit courses with 65 students successful in 20 different courses! We appreciate the many parents who met with administration and teachers to create individual student plans. We had an awesome staff in-service that focused on school climate and creating short-term goals for school improvement. The parent input received at the School Advisory Council is very much appreciated! Spring activities are in full swing with the lottery, registration meetings, MS Musical Theater auditions, Honor Roll Ice Cream Social, Middle School Reward Dance, Theater, All State Choir, fundraising, etc. Thank you PAPA Community for your input, assistance, attendance, and support!

PAPA’s vision of “…providing a supportive educational community where students achieve high academic standards and pursue excellence in the performing arts,” is well-served by our outstanding, 30-member teaching staff. We were privileged recently to have one of our own honored among the best-of-the-best in the state as a finalist for New Mexico Teacher of the Year! Congratulations to High School English Teacher, Leann Tonjes! Mrs. Tonjes is a National Board Certified, veteran teacher who combines high expectations with opportunities that accommodate each student while respecting the different needs of PAPA’s diverse population. As an artist herself, Mrs. Tonjes understands the importance of the arts in education, often providing students the opportunity to incorporate their artistic talents and skills into the English curriculum. Congratulations and thank you, Mrs. Tonjes!

In looking forward to the rest of the school year, there are three important factors that can greatly impact PAPA. The first one happened Tuesday when Governor Martinez signed SB114. This action will affect our current year’s budget through a reduction in our Operational funding of approximately $57,921. This is on top of a reduction we received as a result of the Special Session last fall of $42,881. The decreases will not cause us to have to cut any services at this time. It does decrease our current carryover to just below 2.5% of the current budget. I am more comfortable with a carryover between 5 and 10% to cover emergencies and other unexpected costs for the following fiscal year.

The second factor is SB30, a Bill that will cut PAPA’s Small School Size Adjustment by 50% over five years. PAPA receives this adjustment each year for having under 400 students. This will cut our budget close to $21,500 per year. This amount alone would not be detrimental. This amount with other cuts and a predicted lower budget for next fiscal year will potentially cause PAPA to have to make program cuts. I encourage you to contact your legislators and ask them to vote against SB30.

The third factor is the APS School Board Election. Candidates elected who do not support charter schools could change the great relationship we’ve had with APS over the past several years. We had support on the APS board from Steven Michael Quezada (D5) and Donald Duran (D6). Both chose not to run for re-election. The incumbents running for re-election are David Peercy (D7) and Lorenzo Garcia (D3). Both have also been supportive of PAPA in the past. I encourage you to research and vote in the election if you are in District 3, 5, 6 or 7. I have not been very successful in my efforts to find out specific information from candidates regarding support for charter schools. However, after listening to the APS forums, I have concerns about charter school misconceptions: “Charters have no oversight.” “Charters cherry-pick the best students.” “Charters don’t have to follow the same regulations as traditional public schools.” When posed with the question as to the role of charter schools in public education, there was a lack of strong support from several candidates. The video streams of all the forums are available on the APS website ( Also, as our school is located in District 6, I invited all the candidates to visit PAPA. Candidate, Melissa Finch was the only one who accepted the invitation. She was very positive about schools of choice. Again, I encourage you to vote on February 7th!

Parent involvement is very important to us at PAPA. Just having students complete homework and attend school on time every day can make the difference between failing a class and earning an A. We have to work together in order to bring out your child’s greatest potential. One of the ways we can work together is by having you serve as an advisor in the School Advisory Council/School Health Advisory Council (SAC/SHAC). The Council works with administration and staff on continuous improvement in policy, procedures, scheduling, programs, etc. We always leave time in the meetings for discussion to hear what is important to our community. We encourage you to attend any and all Council meetings. In an attempt to accommodate more parents, the next meeting will take place on Tuesday, February 21st at 3:30pm in Room 4. On the agenda will be the yearly calendar and budget planning. For other ways to volunteer at the school, see the school website under

We have an opening on our Governing Council. Unfortunately, our President, Marc Guggino is relocating to El Paso. He is a community representative. All of our parent positions are filled. If you know of a community member with outreach expertise, please contact Jennifer Lopez, the GC Nominating Committee Chair at This is a volunteer position.

Another way to support PAPA is through the Performing Arts Academy Foundation. This organization is a separate entity from PAPA that provides financial support to fund special projects including the Room to Grow Capital Campaign. If you are interested or would like to recommend someone for the Foundation, please contact President, Sam Sokolove at

The Lottery is in full swing! If you know of any performing arts students that may be interested in applying, please encourage them! Open House for Prospective Students is on February 16th from 4:30-6:00 at PAPA. The application process closes on February 24th at 3:00pm. If you would like to enroll a sibling, complete an application by the deadline. Siblings are given preference pending availability. This year, we are going to do an electronic drawing on March 1st.

On the facility front, the design for PAPA’s two-phase construction project for performing arts/classroom instructional space and a performing arts center is in full-swing! It’s now in the hands of Studio Southwest Architects who will utilize recommendations from PAPA’s design team (parents, students, teachers, administration, and APS capital staff) to complete the next phase of plans.

Moving to the new facility has allowed PAPA to bring more technology into the classroom, greatly increasing the number of tools and resources available for instruction. Technology has also enhanced communication and our ability to assess in meaningful ways. Students are utilizing technology in all core subject areas as a way to grow knowledge, apply skills, and present what they have learned.

The semester holds many opportunities to showcase excellence in academics and performing arts. Standardized testing to measure skill acquisition and growth begins the end of February and continues periodically through the end of the school year. At PAPA, we embrace this opportunity to have students demonstrate current knowledge and skill acquisition and use the data to drive continuous academic improvement plans. Our performing artists will entertain you throughout the semester! It’s not too early for students to plan their audition for the annual PAPAPalooza fundraising variety show that will take place at the end of March. Please watch the calendar and review the announcements for more information and specific dates/location/times.

Traffic has become a concern. Please remember this is a neighborhood school. With this in mind, we encourage you to treat the entire area as a school zone. We have had several close calls over the last few weeks. Please put safety first!

Looking ahead, PAPA’s long-range goals include facility improvement, program expansion, career development, and population growth. Our approach is student-centered, so we can serve the community in a way that promotes educationally well-rounded individuals that have a love of the arts and the tools they need to be the leaders of the future.

I’m looking forward to future possibilities! Thank you for choosing PAPA for your child!

Doreen Winn, Executive Director