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Albuquerque Public Schools Spends $27,268 Per Student Annually

In May, the Albuquerque Journal’s Esteban Candelaria reported on the proposed budget of Albuquerque Public Schools. The APS Board of Education was taken aback by the funding request: $1.936 billion for fiscal year 2023.

At almost $2 billion, this budget represents a 16.73% increase from the 2022 allocation. Simultaneously, APS has seen a marked enrollment decrease in recent years. While figures from 2021 are unavailable, APS has reported a 3% average enrollment loss annually since 2016.

The 2023 budget has not yet been finalized, but Candelaria’s report also highlights the anticipated enrollment of about 71,000 students, via a quote from board member Peggy Muller Aragon. APS had more than 85,000 students in 2016.

Dividing the total budget by the number of enrolled students gives the annual cost per student. That number is $27,268 for 2023.

On the private school spectrum, according to Private School Review, the prestigious Albuquerque Academy charges approximately $25,390 in yearly tuition.

If APS subcontracted education to Albuquerque Academy at this rate, the quality of education received would improve dramatically while netting taxpayers a cost savings of $1,878 per student annually.

That would result in savings of over $133 million, per year.

According to Niche, a national comprehensive school data aggregate platform, Albuquerque Academy reports an average SAT score of 1380. Albuquerque Public Schools reports an average SAT score of 1180. With this information, we gleam that Albuquerque Academy students perform 16% better than APS students on the college admittance exam. The ACT scores are also better for Academy students.

Moving all APS students to Albuquerque Academy would not only save taxpayers, but the students perform better. Do you need a more convincing anecdote for comprehensive school choice reform?

By funding students instead of systems, a school choice program like education savings accounts would free 71,000 students and their families from a future arbitrarily predetermined by a zip code. With their new education savings accounts, they could pursue educational opportunities that best fit their needs.

By Patrick M. Brenner

Patrick Brenner is the founder and president of the Southwest Public Policy Institute, a limited-government research institute and think tank focused on the southwestern United States. An advocate for open government, he leads the institute's government transparency and accountability efforts.

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