APS Budget Update
Some questions and suggestions we've received about the APS budget.
We are still living the recurring budget nightmare that started about 18 months ago. Funding at the state level has declined sharply, as we all know. APS also has been in a state of declining enrollment for the past five years. While the district has expanded the number of schools and programs offered, it has lost students and the funding that follows them.
APS is now in a position of cutting its budget significantly and must face the challenge of deciding must face the challenge of determining which locations to reduce or close, which programs to reduce or eliminate, and whose salary to reduce.
What is a furlough day and how does it affect employees?
When employees are "furloughed" for a day, they lose a day's pay, which is their hourly rate times the number of hours they work in a day. That amount is docked from their paycheck for that pay period.
Since insurance is paid based on a monthly premium, they still pay the full premium for that month. However, taxes are based on a percentage of gross pay, which is less when there is a furlough day, resulting in fewer taxes withheld.
Contrast a furlough day with the idea of reducing the work calendar by a day. For example, employees who go from working 184 to 183 days a year will still lose one day’s pay. However, that loss of pay will be spread over 26 paychecks.
So, if you are paid $130 for each day worked, a furlough will reduce one paycheck by $130 whereas a calendar reduction will reduce all 26 paychecks by $5 each.
If furlough days are necessary, can they be taken during summer so instruction isn’t interrupted?
Furloughing non-school employees only saves the district about $700,000 a day compared to about $2.5 million a day if it shuts down during the school year.
Could APS go to a four-day work week?
That’s something to consider as other districts in the state have, however, studies show this would result in relatively little savings unless it included a 20-percent salary cut.
Why is the bond rating so important to APS?
It’s like an individual’s credit score. A poor rating means we pay higher interest rates when we borrow money, leaving less money to build and renovate schools.
Are we still buying portables?
No, we build buildings.
Can we take steps to bring the superintendent’s salary more in proportion to that of her peers in the state and region?
In fact, when compared to the salaries of superintendents in urban school districts similar in size and diversity to APS, Superintendent Reedy’s salary is slightly less than the average.
Can we stop spending money on charter schools?
There are state laws that govern charter school spending. The state Legislature recently voted against a proposal for a two-year moratorium on new charter schools.
Can we stop hiring double dippers and return to work retirees?
Hiring these individuals doesn’t cost the district additional money.
How will budget cuts impact extracurricular activities including athletics?
All cutbacks are being considered including those to extracurricular activities.
Can we consolidate smaller schools?
Possibly. The district has a committee that is looking into doing that.
How do we balance the budget without impacting teacher salaries?
We’re not sure that we can. More than half of the employees in APS are teachers.
Why are students allowed to stay in school for six years? Why don’t we make parents pay for additional years?
APS provides and free and appropriate education to all students, including those who take a little longer to graduate.
How much does administration cost APS?
Central administration is only about 1 percent of the APS budget. Another 5 percent goes to central services – many of which are housed at City Centre – including human resources, payroll and technology. Almost all the rest goes to schools or student support.
How much does the Office of Innovation cost?
Not much. It only has one employee.
Will class sizes be larger due to budget cuts?
Right now classes are larger than what is recommended by the state; we received a waiver to accommodate previous cuts. But classes could end up being even larger.
Can we outsource accounting services?
That’s a possibility.
Can we outsource maintenance and operations?
That’s a possibility.
Explain the budget of the Special Education Department.
While APS has about 25 percent of the state’s students, we support a third of the special education needs in the state. That’s because we offer many programs and Albuquerque has a concentration of medical services. We do get additional funding for special education, but often it isn’t enough to meet all of the needs of students.
Are instructional coaches being looked at?
They are, but most of their funding comes from federal grants, not the operational budget.
Can we remove undocumented students to save money?
No. Our schools must be safe places where a student’s race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, and immigration status do not create any barriers to that child’s education.
Will high school teachers be asked to teach seven classes next year?
Schedules are among the many topics that are on the table.
Are we looking at pensions and benefits?
Yes, we are reviewing these areas to see if we can find ways to save.
Is the elimination of PARCC a possibility?
No. PARCC is a state mandated test for students in 3rd through 11th grade.
If salary reductions happen, will they happen from the superintendent on down?
Can you eliminate bus services?
No. Public schools are required to provide bus transportation for schools.
Could APS lease their roofs for solar?
That’s something we could explore.
- Review of the district's take-home vehicles
- Streamline dual language programs
- Review standardization of alternative/traditional calendars
- Review employee benefits and leave plans
- Review contracts for duplication
- Explore outsourcing options
- Consolidate services and materials
- Restructure special education non-maintenance of effort for efficiencies
- Reorganize instructional departments and learning zones
- Look at closing/combining smaller schools
- Review sale of property
- Review contract days for some departmental staff