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Editorial: APS putting a needless adult clinic before its kids

Talk about needing a second opinion.

Albuquerque Public Schools, which spent most of 2016 telling voters that its $575 million bond issue was “for the kids,” has decided one of its first projects will be a completely unnecessary health clinic for its adult employees, and it has awarded the operations contract to an out-of-state company for three times the projected amount.

That should have taxpayers feeling more than a little sick to their stomachs.

APS already provides its employees their choice of two health insurance plans. Spending $4.9 million to build and between $2.7 and $4 million annually to run a duplicative clinic for adults when children are reportedly stacked like cordwood in overcrowded classrooms with leaking roofs seems, well, wrong.

Yet, last week, the APS Board of Education’s finance committee recommended awarding a four-year operations contract to Tennessee-based Premise Health. Vera Dallas, district senior director of employee benefits, did not want to explain why Premise Health rose to the top of the list over local providers until the contract is final.

Considering the original operations budget for this nonessential benefit was estimated at $1.5 million, she needs to justify this apparent overrun to voters and taxpayers before a deal is finalized.

The APS board is scheduled to make a final decision on the clinic contract in March. In the meantime, members should consult a gastroenterologist for a gut-check about prioritizing an adult amenity over the real student needs that got them their bond money in the first place.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.