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The Ugly Budget Part IV

In an effort to keep the public informed, we are posting regular updates on budget planning for the 2017-18 school year.

A message from the APS Budget Steering Committee

We hear you. 

We’re reading your emails and posts and tweets. We’re listening to your messages. We’re considering your suggestions.

Like you, we’re concerned about how budget cuts will affect your child’s education and school experience. It won’t be the same without middle school sports or other programs.

We’re worrying right along with you about the financial burden this will have on our employees who likely will face furlough days or reduced contracts and possibly even layoffs.

We are well aware of the strain larger classes and a new high school schedule will have on teachers and students alike.

If we’ve learned anything, it’s how emotional this process can be, not just for us, but for everyone involved. And honestly, when we’re looking at a possible $50 million in cuts – mid-year cuts of $25 million from this year’s budget and another projected $25 million in the coming year – that’s everyone in Albuquerque Public Schools: students, parents, teachers, staff. 

We appreciate your input and we will continue to be transparent. This is the fourth message we’ve sent directly to employees in the past few months. We also continue to post updates to our website and social media sites. We even put together a five-minute video that helps explain the complexities and challenges of developing a budget.

We want you to stay informed, which is why we’re sending this update today to let you know what we talked about at the Board of Education’s Finance Committee meeting last night.  

We don’t know how much money we’ll be getting from the state for the 2017-18 school year. Not yet. While the Public Education Department has indicated that it won’t decrease funding for public education – and may in fact increase it slightly – we are aware that the state is facing a $156 million shortfall, colleges and universities haven’t been funded at all, and the governor has  been firm in her stance not to raise taxes.  

In an effort to be realistic and fiscally responsible, we are proceeding along the conservative path we have already developed, planning for a $12.4 million cut from the state (a 2 percent decrease) accompanied by an additional $12.5 million in increased costs and decreased enrollment. That’s where we come up with the $25 million.  

Please understand that this is just a plan, an evolving plan, that can and will be adjusted as more information becomes available. It is a plan prioritized in four areas: safety, increased efficiency, legality and minimum impact to schools.

If the governor signs a budget that in fact does increase funding for public education, we will be relieved to put extra money back into our schools.  

In the meantime, here’s what we’re planning (again, stress planning) for 2017-18:

Less Pay for All Employees
This would come in the form of furlough days or reduced contract days

Department Cuts
This is the third time in a year that we’ve asked departments to cut their budgets, this time by another 10 percent. We are also review role of departments in supporting students and schools.  

Increased Class Sizes
Increasing average class sizes above what is required by state law needs to be approved by the state.

High School Schedule Change
Students would have the same number of classes, but teachers would teach an additional class and likely would lose their collaboration period.

Other Possible Cost Saving Measures Include:

  • Reorganizing (not cutting) gifted education programs. Students would still get gifted services.
  • Cutting competitive middle school athletics. These are the teams students try out for that travel to other schools for competition. Intramural sports and other after-school programs would continue. 
  • Decreasing allocations for athletic and activities directors
  • Reducing school budgets and discretionary funds
  •  Pooling computer technicians for school support
  • Reducing teacher differentials
  • Reducing athletic and activity differentials for staff
  • Seeking another funding source for teacher mentorship programs

As always, we welcome your input. You can send questions and comments to communications@aps.edu.

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