Thursday, November 11, 2010
APS Preps for Budget Shortfall
By Hailey Heinz
Copyright © 2010 Albuquerque Journal
Journal Staff Writer
Albuquerque Public Schools is starting to plan for budget cuts next year, and the district's worst-case scenario is a $64 million reduction to its $616 million operational budget.
"You've heard me say before that some tough decisions will have to be made and, unfortunately, I'm going to have to say it again through another budget cycle. I'm caught trying to balance between putting everyone in a panic and telling you that everything will be OK," Superintendent Winston Brooks wrote in an APS newsletter distributed this week. He noted that the district already has cut more than $40 million.
The $64 million figure is a guess, but it is based on projections from the Legislative Finance Committee that the state will face a $260 million to $280 million shortfall in the 2011-12 budget year.
APS Chief Financial Officer Don Moya used a high estimate of $280 million to calculate that about $30 million of that shortfall will affect APS.
Moya also included an additional $24 million to cover the cost of teachers rising through the three-tier licensure system and earning more money, higher utility and health insurance costs, a $3 million increase in the district's cash reserves and another $5.7 million to absorb the cost of employee salaries that were covered by federal stimulus money last year.
"I hope it's different; I hope I'm dead wrong," Moya he said. "We have to plan for the worst and hope for the best."
District officials still aren't talking about what they would cut from the budget. Moya said everything is still on the table, and nothing specific is targeted yet.
Brooks publicized the $64 million estimate in the newsletter and said he wanted teachers and other staff to get straight facts, but emphasized the numbers are estimates.
Although it is too soon to talk about which programs, departments or jobs might be cut, Moya said this round of cuts can't come strictly from central administration.
"I don't have $64 million at City Centre," he said.
In fact, Moya said the total amount spent on central services and administration is about $28 million. So even if it were all eliminated (including services such as payroll and human resources), the cuts would have to affect classroom instruction.
About 64 percent of the APS budget is in direct instruction, with the rest going to student support, special education, school-based administrators, maintenance, central services like payroll, and central administration. Moya said central administration accounts for less than 1 percent of the district's budget. There is another 3.4 percent in central services.
Moya said although the numbers are still sketchy, it's important for staff and parents to know cuts are likely on the horizon.
"We have to consider the fact that we're going to have less money. Again," he said. "We have to start letting our community know what's happening."