APS Board Meets Deadline for Nearly $2 Billion Budget

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As some students say, “due date” means “do it right before.” The Albuquerque Public Schools Board appears to follow this advice.

Board members are due to discuss and vote on a nearly $2 billion budget proposal again on Wednesday, after filing it less than a week before its due date with the Department of Public Education. of New Mexico on May 31.

The district asked the state for more time, and APS spokeswoman Monica Armenta said it granted a one-day extension.

Several board members were concerned about the increase in the “huge” proposed budget of $1.936 billion from last year’s $1.868 billion. They also asked where the cuts had been made in the proposed budget and asked for more information on changes to individual school budgets, the number of full-time staff and programs.

Superintendent Scott Elder said the budget will shrink as the district continues to adapt and if student enrollment continues to decline. He said the district cut some 300 positions based on enrollment. This involves transplanting teachers into open positions and condensing classes.

Armenta said the district hopes to answer council members’ questions “as accurately as possible” during the second budget submission on Wednesday.

The biggest slice of the pie will be the operating fund, which accounts for nearly 45% of the total budget at over $869.1 million.

APS is expected to spend $10.3 million more than it receives this year. This amount is significantly lower than last year, when the district’s deficit was about $45 million.

The district’s savings on vacancies will be approximately $7.9 million. That, plus $2.4 million from APS’s approximately $52.7 million cash reserve, will balance the budget.

State funding is expected to rise sharply in the coming year, a direct result of increases approved by lawmakers and the governor earlier this year for teachers and other public education employees. The APS received $719.3 million in 2022 and expects to be able to use about $787.4 million in government funds next year.

The district plans to spend more than $27.6 million on mandatory minimum teacher salary increases and more than $39.5 million on 7% increases for public education personnel. Despite the more than $68 million increase in public funds, APS expects the increased costs to exceed state money by more than $12.2 million.

APS employee increases will be in two parts. First, they will receive 3% payments for the fourth quarter of this year, which the board approved last week. These payments, scheduled for July 5, will be added to employees’ base salaries, followed by an additional 4% increase in the next fiscal year.

Those increases will be increased if they fall short of the average minimum wage increases of $10,000 for teachers, or the new $15 hourly wage, according to a statement from Elder.

Over $3.5 million is set aside in the proposed budget for other at-risk service providers. At last week’s meeting, Executive Budget Director Rosalinda Montoya said these included nurses, counsellors, social workers and other educational support providers.

On Tuesday, APS and the Albuquerque Federation of Teachers announced a tentative agreement on fair raises for many educational support providers. The deal, which hinged on the board’s approval of the budget, would guarantee some 850 licensed workers the same minimum wage increases that were legislated for teachers earlier this year.

At last week’s meeting, the board also approved emergency fuel funds allocated by the DEP. According to a memo from Deputy Secretary Katarina Sandoval in early May, APS received $467,898 for increased fuel costs in 2022.

Transportation is expected to run the district for more than $21.4 million. APS estimated the fuel cost at $373,000.

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