ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Despite declining enrollment Albuquerque Public Schools will have a record budget in the coming year topping $2B which is a 12% budget increase. The district chalks a lot of it up to rising salaries and more classroom time.

“I just want to applaud the taxpayers out there and thank them for funding a $2.16 billion dollar budget for our 68,900 kids,” said APS Board Member Peggy Muller-Aragón. 

The almost $2.2B budget got the green light from the APS board on Wednesday. $990M of that goes toward the district’s operational funding. That includes 6% salary increases for public school employees, which will cost APS $40.2M and another $13.2M for expanding the time students are in school. 

Muller-Aragón continued, “We can do better than having 70% of our kids not be able to read at grade level and 80% not be able to do math and it’s on us because we are the adults in the room.”

For the last decade, APS has seen a steady drop in student enrollment. In 2016, APS had 85,000 students. This year, the district expects funding for 69,000 students. Each student that APS loses means a funding loss of $11,000.

There’s also been a decline in the number of employees which is concerning to some board members. Barbara Petersen said, “The thing that woke me up this week is realizing what a bind we are in for elementary school teachers.” 

But the district’s budget won’t keep increasing forever. Leaders explained, “Our projections so far for the operational portion anyhow is that flattening continues to be flat for the next 3 years or so.” 

APS is working to “right size” schools to deal with that declining enrollment. Last month, the school board voted to move La Luz elementary school students to Macarthur this August and lease La Luz to a charter school.