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Posted June 5, 2018

Budget Includes Money for Raises for First Time in Years

Teachers are expected to see an increase of at least 2.5 percent; other APS employees are expected to get a 2 percent raise.

Albuquerque Public Schools sent a $1.35 billion budget to Santa Fe on Monday that includes money for raises for all employees for the first time in years.    

The operational portion of the APS budget is nearly $694 million, most of which comes from the state through a formula known as the Student Equalization Guarantee. The SEG increased by about 2 percent for the 2018-19 school year. That increase is expected to cover raises of at least 2.5 percent for teachers, counselors, school nurses and librarians. All other APS employees are expected to get at least a 2 percent raise.

In addition, the minimum salary for teachers is expected to increase by $2,000 per level – to $36,000 for new/Level 1 teachers, $44,000 for Level 2 teachers and $54,000 for Level 3 teachers.

Salary increases are subject to union negotiations but could be effective on July 1, which is the beginning of the 2018-19 fiscal year. The budget is subject to final approval by the New Mexico Public Education Department. 

The last time most APS teachers and other district employees got a raise was in 2013 when salaries went up by 1 percent. That increase, however, was offset by a simultaneous state-mandated increase in employee retirement contributions.  

This is the first time in nearly a decade that the district hasn’t faced multi-million dollar budget cuts. Last school year, APS made cuts totaling more than $25 million.

While APS is receiving additional state funding to cover raises, it continues to see a decline in enrollment which means less money for the district. On average APS has been losing 1,000 students a year since 2012 when enrollment was nearly 88,000; it is projected to be just under 82,000 in the coming school year, costing the district about $12 million.

“We’re not sure why we continue to see declining enrollment,” said APS Chief Financial Officer Tami Coleman. “We hear that some of our students are going to charters schools, but the charter schools in our district don’t appear to be growing at the same rate. We’ve also heard that families are leaving Albuquerque for economic reasons. And we’ve heard that the birthrate is on the decline. I suspect that there is no one reason for the decline, but a multitude of factors are responsible.”

Despite challenging budgets over the past several years, APS Superintendent Raquel Reedy and the Budget Steering Committee have committed to protecting school and classroom funding. In fact, less than 1 percent of the APS operational budget goes to central administration, compared to a New Mexico average of 2 percent, according to the New Mexico Coalition of Educational Leaders. APS spends nearly 64 percent of its operational budget on direct instruction compared to a state average of about 60 percent.

Some additional expenses in 2018-19 include opening Tres Volcanoes Community Collaborative School, a new K-8 school on Albuquerque’s west side; the expansion of eCademy which combines online and in-person education; and support for the restructuring of low-performing schools.

“Overall I am pleased with this budget,” Coleman said. “It’s a solid, balanced budget that has been built in a much calmer environment than the past few years. Declining enrollment trends are preventing the district from implementing or expanding programs, but there are no budget cuts to speak of.”

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