Public and Profitable: Admin makes hundreds of thousands with schools

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Scott Glasrud oversees about 800 public school students grades 4 through 12, but he makes hundreds of thousands of dollars a year doing it.

That has the state’s attention.

The Schools

Glasrud’s charter schools are high-performing. Southwest Learning Center in the Heights and SAMS Academy, located next to Double Eagle, focus on science and aviation.

Some students can even get a pilot’s license through the schools.

“The program, the school leases the airplanes and we provide ground instruction for students,” Glasrud said.

Glasrud takes in a $210,000 salary – more than any superintendent in the state, other than than Winston Brooks with APS.

He makes even more money on top of that by doing business with his own schools.

Diamond Aviation

“Diamond Aviation is the company we lease the airplanes from, which in full disclosure is a company that I own,” Glasrud told News 13.

Diamond Aviation collected about $800,000 over four years for leasing two planes to the schools.

According to school board members, Diamond was the only company that put in a bid to rent planes.

“One response turned into a lease that the board then approved,” said Larry Kennedy, president of SAMS Governing Council.

State Auditor Hector Balderas says there have been enough red flags to warrant a more thorough look into the schools.

“We’re just ensuring that this district isn’t operating on an actual conflict of interest that would be putting taxpayer dollars at risk,” said State Auditor Hector Balderas.

The audit should be released soon.

The Public Education Department says it’s not aware of Glasrud doing anything illegal, saying it’s up to Glasrud and his board to decide how to spend their public funds..

Southwest Learning Center

“It’s really not for me to say whether it’s a good or bad expenditure,” said PED Deputy Secretary Paul Aguilar about the plane program. “The board makes the decisions and they must feel that it is.”

The state has raised questions about Southwest Learning Center’s funding before.

A report from the Legislative Finance Council says the SLC has three schools under one roof, elementary, middle and high school, but calls them separate schools so it qualifies for an extra $850,000 dollars from the state in small school funding.

That’s not against the law, but the PED says it may not be in the spirit of what small school funding is intended for.

“That’s one of the questions we raised with them is why do they need that and we’ve not gotten a really good answer,” Aguilar said.

Glasrud says questions about how he runs his schools are misdirected.

“I recognize people have problems or they don’t like the way we’ve done it. We’re competition for people,” he said. “But so be it.”

The PED also wants to know about the flight lessons at SAMS – it costs students more than $2,000 to get their pilots license there.

The Department says public schools should not be charging kids for an education.

The school says it’s no different than charging football players for uniforms.

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