NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Some New Mexico school districts are bracing for possible budget cuts next year as they see fewer students in class. According to the state’s public education department, statewide, public schools saw a 4% drop in enrollment last year. While the statewide PED says, enrollment this year equals last, at least two of the state’s largest districts said they were still losing students.
Santa Fe Public Schools Superintendent Hilario Larry Chavez is closely monitoring the district’s latest enrollment numbers. “This could be an indicator of what could happen in the next two reference periods,” he said.
The neighborhood welcomes fewer students. “It’s about 250 students that we lost from the end of last school year to the start of this school year,” Chavez said.
If the number holds, the district could also lose about $ 1 million in public funding. âIt’s scary,â Chavez said. He said students were leaving for a number of reasons, such as moving cities or states and entering distance education or home schooling.
This all comes after the district has already suffered a heavy blow for its funding this year. During the 2020-2021 school year, the district lost 615 students and approximately $ 2.9 million in funding. Chavez said they need to be creative to keep the district operating as usual.
âLook at contracts, look at vacancies, consolidate certain positions, take on new responsibilities in the district. So there are a lot of different ways that we’ve been able to come up with a balanced budget, âsaid Chavez.
The state’s largest district, Albuquerque Public Schools, is also seeing a decline in student numbers. According to its dashboard, enrollments are down by around 1,150 students compared to last year. According to meeting records, there are around 600 fewer students than they would like. A district spokesperson said it would have a financial impact, but how hard it is to say at this point.
Districts have a few additional reporting periods to the state which will determine funding. Chavez hopes the students will return before then. âWe have an 86% graduation rateâ¦ our educational ecosystem is healthy, it strives and we continue to work together and move forward,â he said.
He said the district sees most of its students losing in K-8 grades. The district is trying to bring back students by promoting its graduation rate, what the district has to offer, and by promoting its K-12 online school.
KRQE has also reached out to Rio Rancho public schools, which said it has seen growth in enrollment this year.