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APS Needs to Put Students First

I caught up on a few issues of the Albuquerque Journal last night and was struck by the absurdity of this article (subscription):

The Albuquerque school board may impose a moratorium on any new charter schools until it is clear where money for buildings will come from.

In a special meeting early Tuesday morning, the board reluctantly agreed to accept $1.7 million in state matching funds on behalf of Amy Biehl Charter School, and committed itself to coming up with $875,000 for the district’s share.

Why is this so absurd? Well, for one, Amy Biehl High School was one of only four APS high schools to actually make Adequate Yearly Progress under No Child Left Behind. In fact, two of the four high schools were charter high schools. The school board and district should be going out of their way to figure out how to create more Amy Biehls not adding a “provision that the APS administration propose a moratorium to prevent more charter schools from opening.”

Second, let’s do a little math, shall we?

The state funds plus the district matching amount equals $2.575 million and Amy Biehl has 208 students. This means that the capital cost per student is $12,379.81. By the same token APS is pleading for the state to give them $108 million to build two Westside high schools. Assuming each of those schools has an enrollment of 2,035 students (the current average) the capital cost per student is $53,071.25. We’re talking about a whopping 429% increase in cost. Whatever happened to economies of scale?

APS Board members need to get their act together. Statements like these show they are not even running the most preliminary of numbers:

“If we accept this deal, the impact is … to other schools,” board member Miguel Acosta said. “You tell me which other school we should take money from.”

Right back at you Mr. Acosta, if taxpayers, through their elected legislators, accept the absurd APS proposal of $108 million to build two Westside schools, you tell me “which other school we should take money from?”