Back in April of 2022 the Legislative Finance Committee issued a report stating that due to a drop in enrollment at the District from 89,163 students in 2012-2013 to 71,119 in the current (2022-2023) school year that the district should “rightsize” its physical assets. That’s a 20% decline over the decade.
Well, the District has submitted its plan to the Board. It’s not surprising that the plan is underwhelming. No layoffs are included nor would any facilities be shut down and sold off. Some would be repurposed with a portion of those being made into pre-K facilities with the passage of Amendment 1.
We share Board Vice President Peggy Muller-Aragón’s belief that “some communities — like on the West Side of the city, where her district is — may benefit from selling schools.”
“If we sold some of those schools … it would bring a possibility of building new neighborhoods in areas where there isn’t space for new neighborhoods,” she said. “We all know how housing is really lacking in our city.” Selling schools and redeveloping them would also have the impact of bringing them onto the property tax rolls and reducing costs of owning and managing so many properties.
However, with massive oil and gas budget surpluses and voters having approved plans to tap the permanent fund for even more spending, the incentive to make hard decisions simply isn’t there. Interestingly, New Mexico’s public schools were among the few states in the West to lose students in public schools beteen 2009 and 2020).