Albuquerque Budget Cuts Funding Play

Albuquerque May Cut Middle School Sports to Save Money

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The public schools of Albuquerque, New Mexico, plan to save money by eliminating middle school sports teams.

Be it noted that Republican Governor Susanna Martinez has refused to raise taxes and has threatened to defund state universities.

The one potential cut that gets parents’ attention is sports teams.

New Mexico doesn’t want to pay for educating its children.

“Parents reacted with dismay to 3,400 students in Albuquerque Public Schools losing a traditional training ground for high school athletics. Basketball, volleyball and track and field teams in the district’s 28 middle schools are set to be disbanded next school year, leaving families to find private leagues for children in grades 6, 7 and 8.

“Some worry that low-income families in particular may be hard-pressed to find teams and facilities outside public school, while others say the opportunity to play sports is critical for students at such a formative age.

“Vanessa Petty, president of the parents association at Lyndon B. Johnson Middle School in Albuquerque, said her daughter was looking forward to playing volleyball next year.

“Their first introduction to sports for a majority of children is middle school,” Petty said. “It’s huge not just for their personal health but more for social aspects. They learn teamwork, they learn respect for others.”

“Under the athletic cuts, teachers would lose coaching stipends and short-term coaching contracts would go away. The changes will save $580,000 and help avoid classroom cuts, district spokeswoman Monica Armenta said.”

That is a small fraction of the $26 million in reductions that the district says may be needed as New Mexico wrestles with a downturn in tax income linked to oil prices, a sluggish economy and the highest U.S. unemployment rate. Public schools in New Mexico rely on the state for nearly all their operating budgets.

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and the Democratic-led Legislature are in a standoff over how to fill a $156 million budget shortfall and protect the state’s credit rating. Martinez vetoed tax increases that she called reckless and plans to call lawmakers back to the Capitol to renegotiate.

Lawmakers are preparing to sue the governor to block vetoes that would defund all state universities, the Legislature and other core government services.

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