- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 26, 2017

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Middle school students still will be able to compete in basketball, volleyball and track and field under a plan being developed by Albuquerque Public Schools.

APS spokeswoman Johanna King said Wednesday that the district is working with principals, coaches and community partners on the plan that would keep competitive sports in middle schools for another year.

She said middle schools also will still offer physical education, intramurals and programs that are funded by grants such as flag football, lunchtime basketball, archery, tennis and soccer.

APS officials had announced April 13 that it had decided to drop its middle school athletics program to help address massive budget cuts and save up to $750,000 each year.

Parents reacted with dismay to 3,400 students in Albuquerque Public Schools losing a traditional training ground for high school athletics.

Cutting basketball, volleyball and track and field teams in the district’s 28 middle schools would leave families to find private leagues for children in grades 6, 7 and 8.

“This is a win for both kids and parents, who made their voices heard over the last week,” New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said in a statement.

King said the district continues to look for ways to address a budget shortfall that is projected to be as much as $26 million next school year.

She said it could mean finding additional revenue sources including possibly charging admission for middle school competitions, looking for event sponsors, and working with community partners and the APS Education Foundation, a non-profit organization established for promoting private support of the district and its students.

“Despite our budgetary predicament, we really want to avoid cuts that directly impact the classroom and we realize that engagement in extracurricular activities including sports can contribute to the academic success of our students,” APS Superintendent Raquel Reedy said.

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