Independent budget analysis looks at APS spending

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An analysis just released by the Rio Grande Foundation, an independent think tank, said Albuquerque Public Schools is spending $16,000 per student, per year.

According to the foundation, this is all based on the entire annual budget from APS, including items like capital money. That took the figure of $1.34 billion and divided it by the enrollment of 84,138 students at APS.

Based on using those figures, APS is spending more than the national average of $11,000 spent per student, and just over $9,000 spent per student in Rio Rancho.

“All the kids are going to school in schools that are built and maintained by the school district,” said Paul Gessing, President of the Rio Grande Foundation. “We think those should be a part of the equation when you talk about overall per student spending.”

The district said they disagree with those figures because it incorporates items like capital money, which is not spent directly on students, but on maintenance and construction of buildings.

“They pulled in numbers that somewhat artificially inflate the numbers simply because we’re Albuquerque,” said Seth Elder, Chief Operating Officer for APS. “We’re large, we have a larger capital base, that’s going to change your number.”

According to APS, they actually spend around $7,400 per student per year.

Right now, the district is facing an expected $25 million shortfall. To save cash, administrators have proposed cutting middle school sports which would save just over half a million dollars. They also add this is just one option of many that they are exploring.

One recommendation from the Rio Grande Foundation is to possibly consolidate schools with low enrollment numbers. APS said that’s an option they have already explored and used. In 2016, Acoma and Onate Elementary Schools were consolidated into one. They added they will keep exploring that option, but it won’t likely happen next school year.

The district also said they’ve experienced a decline of 1,000 students last year and again this year. That, in turn, means they get less money from the state overall, but are left with still having to pay for the basics like school buildings and administration.

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