Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
That’s how Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent Scott Elder described the budget planning for the fiscal year that starts in July.
“We estimate that we have $45 million more in expenditures than we have revenue in our operational fund,” Elder said, forecasting next school year’s fiscal situation.
Elder said the district’s distribution from the school funding formula will be roughly the same as the previous year, but there are additional costs, such as salary increases.
However, that deficit could significantly change depending on how many kids return to APS and how much funding the district ultimately gets from the state, according to chief financial officer Tami Coleman.
Officials previously reported that the district is facing an enrollment decrease of about 5,200 kids – 1,200 attributed to historical declines and 4,000 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is the major factor creating budget hurdles.
Students could come back to the district, bringing with them funding to help with the deficit. But it’s still unclear at this point how many students will return.
How much money the district ultimately gets for enrollment growth will be determined by a count in October.
Chief Information and Strategy Officer Richard Bowman said there were 4,264 registrations – meaning a student was registered to go to school at APS – in March and 5,318 in April for the 2021-22 school year.
There were 3,979 and 3,839, respectively, the year prior.
“We are down from two years ago but up from last year,” Bowman said.
He added that the bulk of registration, which is ongoing, typically occurs in July and August.
A lifeline amid the deficit will be federal aid. The district expects over $200 million from the American Rescue Plan, some of which is expected to help fill gaps and balance the budget, Coleman said.
“When we have less funding, our normal, required process, is to identify budget cuts to balance the budget,” Elder said. “For next year, that practice will be very different.”