Superintendent's News

Posted: February 16, 2024

It’s Budget Time

In his weekly message, Superintendent Scott Elder discusses this year’s budget process.

Superintendent Scott Elder and APS students at the Legislature.

Superintendent Scott Elder and APS students at the Legislature.

To every teacher, principal, and school employee, I congratulate you for making it through another Valentine’s Day. It’s been a few years since I’ve worked at a school on that holiday, but I haven’t forgotten all the drama and angst that surrounds it, particularly at middle and high schools. So kudos to you for pushing through!

I also want to recognize our legislative team, Joseph Escobedo and Jessica Martinez, for making it through another legislative session and for advocating for our students and staff at the Roundhouse. It’s been a busy week in Santa Fe where our state lawmakers wrapped up a 30-day session on Thursday. Among the most important work they did was pass a $10.6 billion state budget that funds state agencies, public education, and so much more for the coming fiscal year.

The budget is now in Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s hands. She has line-item veto power, meaning the spending plan approved by lawmakers isn’t yet set in stone.

The budget adopted by the House and Senate earmarks some $4.3 billion for public schools, which includes funding for a 3% raise for school employees. It also allocates $40 million in one-time funds statewide for Career Technical Education, including $5 million for summer internships.

We’re grateful for the investments state lawmakers and the governor are making in public education.

Whatever the final approved budget ends up being, it will affect our students and staff in big ways. The funding we get from Santa Fe largely dictates what we are able to do in the coming fiscal year and sets the stage for the budget process we undertake every spring.

Our finance staff is already hard at work on next year’s budget. They’ve been working with the budget steering committee, provided an overview to the APS Board of Education, and are currently in the process of making budget calls to schools.

We all know budgets are critical because they lay out an organization’s priorities. Here at APS we’re focused on improving outcomes for all of our students. We want to improve our literacy and math proficiency rates, prepare our kids for college or to pursue the career of their choice, and ensure that they have the skills they need to succeed in life.

Those are our priorities, and it’s on us to ensure that the spending plan we come up with will help our students reach those goals. With that in mind, we’re again asking schools and departments to articulate how their proposed budgets align with the four district goals.

Schools will also be asked to explain how their use of at-risk funding will support the Martinez-Yazzie subgroups – Native Americans, English learners, socioeconomically disadvantaged children, and students with disabilities. In 2018, a Santa Fe judge ruled that our state isn’t doing enough to provide a sufficient education to these groups and ordered us to do more for them.

Speaking of the budget, there’s another big thing happening in the coming fiscal year. The federal pandemic relief funds we’ve relied on for the last few years will be going away. We’ve tried to avoid spending these one-time funds on recurring expenses, but it’s clear that we’re going to have to absorb some of these items into our regular budget. That work is already underway.

We’ll figure it all out. Our North Star is always what’s best for students and the goals and guardrails adopted by the board.

On that note, board members are hosting two forums to gather public input on next year’s budget. The first will be on Monday, Feb. 26, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Berna Facio Professional Development Complex, 3315 Louisiana Blvd. NE. The second will be on Wednesday, Feb. 28, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Lyndon B. Johnson Middle School, 6811 Taylor Ranch Dr. NW.

Until next week.