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APS facing big deficit, CFO says

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque Public Schools in all likelihood will have to contend with a multimillion dollar deficit as it puts together its 2015-16 budget, Don Moya, APS chief financial officer, told the school board Wednesday night.

How big that deficit will be depends on how much new revenue the state receives for the coming fiscal year and how much money state lawmakers dedicate to the education funding formula.

A new revenue estimate was unveiled on Wednesday indicating the state will have an estimated $83 million in “new” money to spend, much less than previously expected.

Dropping oil prices have pushed down the state’s revenue projections, which had been as high as $285 million last summer.

“Now we know we’re looking at about a $22 million shortfall” based on current projections, Moya told the school board, but he added numerous factors could affect the budget outlook.

“There are still a lot of risks, still a lot of questions,” he said

APS attorney and lobbyist Art Melendres told the board a new revenue projection is expected in early March.

If APS revenue were to remain flat, the district would be facing about a $30 million deficit for next year, Moya said during a Jan. 27 board committee meeting.

APS officials are working on an “academic master plan” and have “identified many opportunities” to potentially cut costs, Moya said.

The reason APS will face a deficit even if it receives additional money is because the costs of running the district have outpaced revenues, Moya said. One example of that was the district’s electric bill increasing by 9 percent.

Moya said that 65 percent of the district’s budget is dedicated to direct classroom instruction.

The district has avoided classroom cuts in the past, “and it’s my hope we can do that again,” Moya said during the Jan. 27 meeting.