Reasons for Hope
To get there, the board will have to close a projected $10.7 million deficit in what's expected to be a $185-$190 million budget. And they'll have to do it without tapping their savings account: the district's fund balance, a robust $40 million in 2003, is projected to be just $5.3 million when the AAPS fiscal year ends this month--so low that the district's credit rating was downgraded in April.
But after cutting 350 jobs in the past three years, this year the schools have a new plan: enroll more students. And it's working.
In January, the district announced that it would accept as many as 750 new students. By mid-May, 704 kids had expressed interest: 314 from outside the district who've signed up for the Schools of Choice program; 129 district residents currently in charter, private, or home schools; 116 whose families are moving out of the district but who are staying in district schools; 115 in a new "young fives" kindergarten; and thirty children of district employees who live elsewhere.
Typically, only seven out of ten students who express interest in the spring show up for classes in the fall. This year the district hopes to do better than that--but even if it doesn't, it will gain nearly 500 students. They'll bring with them $3-$4 million in state funding, which will go a long way toward filling the budget gap.