Superintendents prepare for increase in enrollments, costs next school year

Education

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – School superintendents from around the state testified before a legislative committee Wednesday talking about the problems their districts are facing during this pandemic and the problems staring them in the face when it’s over.

District administrators from around New Mexico say they’re already operating from a budget deficit. And this year’s lack of in-school attendance could lead to a big increase in enrollment and costs next year. “We are scared, I’ll just tell you we are scared. The PED reports home school numbers are up 50% over last year at this time,” says Dennis Roch, President, NM School Superintendents.

During the Legislative Education Committee meeting Wednesday, superintendents from around the state say they’re seeing a decrease in enrollment. Districts in New Mexico’s counties that border other states are seeing students head across state lines for their education. They’re also seeing older students seek out GEDs instead of finishing high school.

Albuquerque Public Schools has seen a decrease of approximately 4,000 students this school year as families opt for private schools and homeschooling. Superintendent Scott Elder says districts can expect to see some huge kindergarten classes next August.

“The largest reductions have been at the pre-K and K level and we believe that many families are taking what we’re calling a redshirt year. We could be looking at a kindergarten class of 150 percent projection perhaps even higher,” Elder says.

The President of the Superintendents Association says he doesn’t believe they can properly create a budget for the next school year because there are so many question marks about their enrollment numbers. Other concerns are staff turnover this year, likely driven by the stress of the pandemic.

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