School Board Moves Closer to Finalized Budget

LAPS Chief Financial Officer John Wolfe presents the almost-completed Los Alamos Public Schools budget to the School Board Tuesday. Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/
Los Alamos Daily Post

The Los Alamos School Board moved closer to approving a 2014-15 budget at Tuesday’s meeting, held at the School Administraton Building Conference Room. The final budget will be presented to the Board May 22.

“I’m very happy with the way the budget is shaping up,” Board Vice President Kevin Honnell said.

Budget highlights include the hiring of three new teachers. The cost to the district of adding the three teachers is $80,000 per teacher for a total of $240,000. The additional teachers will be funded through the District’s lease income.

Declining enrollments, which translate into fewer funds from the State of New Mexico, continue to be a problem for the district. The loss of riders on Los Alamos school buses, added to rising fuel costs created a $400,000 shortfall in the District’s transportation sector.

Raises of 6 percent for educational assistants and three percent for other staff have created additional costs of $121,477 and $791,000 for the District. In addition, increases in insurance premiums, utilities and other costs have eaten away the $1,316,012 in increased state funds given to the District this year.

District Chief Financial officer John Wolfe is projecting that $1,223,175 in funds from lease income will be required to supplement funding from the State and the $8 million in funds the Department of Energy provides the District.

Board Members expressed concern over the aging of facilities the District leases to other entities. The District receives around $3 million in lease income each year. Increased lower-cost rental space made available in Mari-Mac Shopping Center when Smith’s Food & Drug shifts its location to its new facility may make it important for the District to upgrade facilities in order to compete, Board Member Jim Hall said. Making these repairs could deplete the amount of lease income available for other projects, he said.

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