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Tuesday, March 10, 2009
APS May Even Out Funding
By Andrea Schoellkopf
Journal Staff Writer
Albuquerque Public Schools announced a new centralized budget system Monday that is designed to equalize funding by sending more money into high-poverty schools.
Schools in more affluent neighborhoods, along with larger-population schools, are expected to see cuts in their budget.
The new plan, which will be controlled at the district level rather than the school level, will dictate staffing levels, including the number of secretaries, custodians, counselors and teachers.
"I think there really was an unequal distribution of resources," said Superintendent Winston Brooks, who said school budgets in affluent neighborhoods appeared to be bolstered by PTA fundraising, enabling them to use operational dollars for other items or have money left over.
It wasn't immediately clear which schools would get cuts and which would have new staff. Individual school budgets will be released to the principals later this month.
The plan, introduced during a school board finance committee meeting, immediately drew criticism for cuts to the largest schools, which are expected to have the same number of secretaries, counselors and assistant principals as their smaller counterparts.
School board member Robert Lucero, whose West Side district includes some of the district's largest enrollments, said tiny schools like Garfield Middle will get the same funding for office staff as James Monroe Middle School, which has 1,600 students. Under the current system, larger schools get additional money for more custodians, assistant principals and other staff.
"Overcrowded schools get the short end of the stick," Lucero said.
The proposed formula for elementaries, for instance, would have 25 assistant principals districtwide. Other positions can depend on population. If, for example, a school has 301 students or more, it would get a full-time PE teacher; if there are more than 800, the school gets two PE teachers.
Each school would have a principal, a health assistant, a clerk and a secretary and an average of three custodians, based on square footage. The presence of a nurse would be "determined by the district," and music and art teachers and instructional coaches would be "district funded."
Schools will receive between $75 to $95 per student for discretionary spending, Brooks said, which principals can use for additional staffing, if they have high enrollment.