Santa Fe Public Schools anticipating possible budget deficit

Education

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Superintendent of Santa Fe Public Schools said the district could be facing a more than $7 million decrease in next year’s operating budget, meaning there could be cuts. She said a drop in enrollment is a main factor.

KRQE spoke with Dr. Veronica Garcia, the superintendent of the district, who said that is the
“worst-case scenario.” However, she’s optimistic it won’t be as bad as the $10 million hit the district faced this past school year. She said the $7.1 million decrease could happen because of a decline in enrollment. Garcia said of the district’s more than 12,000 students currently enrolled, an estimated 615 of them have opted not to enroll for the coming year and instead are choosing to homeschool, going out of state, or for other reasons.

Garcia said they might have to make cuts in staffing because of it, though it’s unclear where those cuts would be made. But Garcia is hoping that could be avoided with federal aid and help from the state.

“We are still working with the Public Education Department right now,” said Garcia. “It’s the worst-case scenario to see whether or not the district would qualify for a ‘hold harmless’ provision that would fund us at the same level that we were funded last year.”

She said the district and the state are on different pages in regards to how much money the district ended with last year. That’s what the state is going off of when it comes to districts being approved for that “hold harmless” provision. Garcia said the district’s ending balance was $114 million last year. But said the state calculated it was about $8 million less than that.

Garcia expects to get more answers from the state about the anticipated deficit early next week. The district’s finance committee has until June 1 to submit a finalized budget to the state for approval.

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