Where might Albuquerque Public Schools’ money be going?

The debate over APS’ budget and whether they are spending their money in the highest and best service of their students is white hot. We at the Rio Grande Foundation consider this discussion long-overdue and important particularly given the likelihood of ongoing budget challenges in New Mexico.

It is very difficult to directly compare APS’ spending to that of districts outside New Mexico (school funding differs dramatically by state), but both the Census Bureau and the National Education Association have some information that we believe sheds considerable light on the issues, especially since APS accounts for such a large portion of the State’s student population.

Dowd Muska outlined some specific reform ideas recently.

We do know that according to the US Census Bureau, New Mexico schools spend a lot on administration relative to other states:

We also know that New Mexico schools spend a good deal per-pupil more than surrounding states:

Lastly, according to the NEA’s 2016 “Rankings and Estimates,” report (chart H-19), New Mexico’s capital spending is at the high end of national averages ranking 6th-highest in the nation (5th if you eliminate Washington, DC) in terms of capital spending per student:

APS’ role in all of this is up for discussion and debate. We strongly believe that APS has room to cut in some of these areas (as do other districts in New Mexico), but we are pleased to be having this long-overdue discussion and encourage Gov. Martinez to stick to her guns.

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7 Replies to “Where might Albuquerque Public Schools’ money be going?”

  1. Thank you for your continued attention to New Mexico’s public school problems and potential solutions. I pray that one day voters and those who hold power over our education system will pay attention, and change things. In the 11 years our family has lived here, nothing has changed for the better, sadly. The constant refrain is, “that’s the way it has always been here in New Mexico.”

  2. I don’t get the controversy. It seems dubious and– quite frankly, partisan on your part because of the timing and how this “think tank” focuses so much on APS.

    Here’s why: One fact that you don’t seem to include in your public posts or here that should figure into an honest debate about “APS’ role” in whatever national standings you cite is that it’s one of the largest school districts. That seems dishonest. It seems logical that their infrastructure and managing costs would be higher than other districts. Why aren’t you including that when you point a finger at APS?

    I really don’t know which side I fall on here but I have less trust in your organization when it seems like your facts are off are they’re selectively omitted.

    1. You can question our reasons for reporting this or our focus on APS, but we are citing per-pupil data here, so APS’ administrative spending and other $$ are spread out over more students, thus lowering the per-pupil number. In other words, APS SHOULD be spending LESS per student due to economies of scale.

  3. Interestingly, today’s Albuquerque Journal printed a list of the APS administrators paid more than $100,000 a year, along with their actual salaries. There are 35 administrators on this list, which is topped by Superintendent Raquel Reedy at $240,000. Some small progress is that I think we are paying less for her than we have for previous superintendents who have failed badly in their jobs. So one cheer for APS in that regard.

  4. Although it is a year after the fact, I only stumbled on this now, and this bears refuting.

    There appears to be a one-year anomaly with FY14 Census bureau data in table 8, because the administration amounts reported in FY14 are not at all consistent with FY12, 13 and 15, all of which show administrative spending as a % of per-pupil expenditure close to the national average (NM – 7.7% in FY15, vs a national average of 7.4%).

    This is probably driven by a reporting error from the NM PED, because in Table 16 the APS figures show a similar magnitude anomaly, which is not at all corroborated in the APS budget documents for 2016, which show, for example on page 42, in the 2016 APS budget, no deviation from long-term trend for account 2400.

    In short, the actual data about administrative spending probably do not support your conclusion that APS admin is bloated at all, and the entire basis of this blog post is some kind of clerical or reporting error for FY14. (Which, the census does warn about under the heading “Data Quality” on page ix.)

    So much for the Skandera/Martinez administration’s supposed data prowess, btw.

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