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Posted April 16, 2013

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Budget Looks Brighter for 2013-14

APS will get more money from the state this coming school year, and officials are cautiously optimistic about the district’s financial outlook.

APS is expecting about $24 million more in state funding for the 2013-14 school year, an increase of about 4 percent. The extra money will help pay for increasing utility, insurance and other costs and will also help to balance next year’s budget.

APS officials had, as recently as a month ago, been bracing for a budget shortfall next school year of approximately $7 million and had made plans for significant cuts to help cover the projected shortfall. These cuts would have been in addition to the $100 million in budget cuts that the district took over the past four years. Those cuts resulted in the elimination of nearly 1,000 positions.

However, two items in the 2013-2014 budget assumptions changed significantly in the past  month:

  1. The governor signed a bill that waives class size limits for school districts across the state. The governor’s approval of the waivers will save APS approximately $6 million in expenditures for next year, and
  2. State revenues came in $4 million higher than expected as a result of increases in the state unit value, increases in the number of students requiring special education services, and increases in the district “At Risk” factor. The “At Risk” factor is an index that measures rates of student mobility, student English Language Learners and students that qualify for free and reduced lunches.

These two changes took the school district from a projected $7 million shortfall to a $3 million surplus. Funding levels are now back to 2010 levels.

Officials aren’t yet sure if the projected, moderate budget surplus for next year will hold. Supplemental funding from a special education maintenance of effort program is still uncertain. Much of that supplemental funding availability depends on whether the state loses federal special education dollars. The federal government is looking into whether the state of New Mexico failed to maintain or increase spending on special education each year as required by law.  If the federal government rules against the state of New Mexico, the projected budget surplus will become a projected shortfall.

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