APS asks for input on budget through parent survey

Education

Albuquerque Public Schools is asking parents how the district should spend its money. APS sent out a survey just days after the failed bond election.

While the district says the two aren’t related, there is concern that the failed bond measures could have long term impacts on the district’s operational fund. 

District leaders say they have compiled a wishlist of district needs and they hope this survey helps them to narrow down where to start. 

“Everybody can come up with wishlists. What is the real need? It’s very tough to come up with,” said Paul Gessing. 

Paul Gessing is the president of the Rio Grande Foundation, a non-profit research group that keeps a close eye on the spending of taxpayer money. He’s also one of the many APS parents who got this survey.

Last year, the district had an operational budget of $625 million. With more expected from the legislature, APS is using the survey to figure out how to prioritize for the next school year. 

“Perhaps we can better serve the community wishes by knowing what they really think is important,” said Chief Financial Officer Tami Coleman. 

The survey asks parents to rank the priority of each item.

The list includes professional development for teachers, more music and art classes, improved safety measures, more health resources for students, family support services for at-risk students, more teachers and staff, better college/career readiness, more extracurricular activities, updated/engaging curriculum and instructional materials, and improved transportation services. 

While the survey was released just days after voters defeated all three bond and mill levy requests from APS’ special mail-in election, Coleman says the two are unrelated.

“This really is surrounding academics and kids; this is all about kids. It really doesn’t have anything to do with capital or any of the other things that ace been recently talked about,” Coleman said. 

Parents like Gessing think the survey could be useful, but say the district should have gone a step further explaining how the budget is divided currently so they can make informed choices. 

“We need to get into the idea of sharing information and having that honest discussion when we are allocating resources,” Gessing said.

Although the survey was originally sent out just parents, the district says it will make the survey available online for all community members to give their input. 

The district says it will start reviewing the results in the spring as it starts to adjust the budget. Officials say they will likely also have community meetings to get more input.

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