APS “Computer-error” had District $20 million in black

Yesterday’s Albuquerque Journal featured an article titled APS Will Cover $20M Funding Hit. Apparently, the state did an audit in 2007 that found that the Albuquerque Public Schools district was over-reporting teacher experience and special education staff. The state determined that it had given APS $20 million too much because of these errors.
Part of the problem was that from at least 1991 to 2001, APS was calculating teacher training and experience against state rules. APS’ criteria for “teacher training” were more lax than the state rules allowed. Even after the state warned APS in 1991 and forgave the errors, the district continued to miscalculate for another decade.
APS also used a “computer program that accidentally doubled its number of special education staff.” Who knows how much that computer program cost the city? My little cousin could’ve designed a program that can count numbers. He probably would have done it for free too.
APS will not have $20 million of state money in ‘08-’09 that it’s used to receiving. APS says it can “cover the loss with its cash reserves next year.” But, unless APS suddenly hires teachers that actually meet its over-reported levels of training and experience, and unless it doubles the size of its special education staff, it will be $20 million ‘short’ every year.
The district’s chief business officer, Gina Hickman, said that we were giving APS $13 million too much for teacher training and experience, and $7 million too much for special education staff. I can understand that APS may have different guidelines for calculating teacher training and experience than the state does. I would assume APS was giving this $13 million to teachers with more training and experience. But, if the faulty computer program was doubling the numbers of special education staff, what was APS spending our $7 million on?

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