Finding $18.8 million for APS

Albuquerque Public Schools has made cuts, but the trimming so far ain’t enough.  In what is sure to be only another in a series of shortfall announcements over the next 2-3 years, APS Superintendent Winston Brooks got the news the District needs to cut $18.8 million by September 1st.  2010.  In a month, basically.

Having already frantically searched for change in every teacher’s lounge couch, what is left to cut at this point? Needless to say opinions vary on this question.  Wilder ideas such as “close every elementary school in town because they can’t teach Math there to save their lives” are full of truth and promise, but unrealistic given the vital babysitting role elementary schools provide.

Other ideas including implosion of the APS Central Office “Twin Towers”  and selling the asbestos-filled building materials for scrap have special merit, and would also offer the fundraising possibilities of charging large admission fees to APS teachers, many of whom would certainly pay fifty bucks to see such an implosion, and even up to $100  if APS Central Office personnel remained in their offices during the implosion.

But given the sluggish construction economy, sufficient funds most probably could not be raised via this method either.  Bummer.

Here then are some ideas to quickly cover the latest announced shortfall by September 1st:

  • Intensify the already-in-place selling of ice cream and crappy chocolate bar products at “airport” prices for three weeks. Those not involved in K-12 education are probably scoffing at such an idea….but they haven’t been in a school lately.  Parents, you know all that money you guiltily throw at your kids thinking it will be used for trendy  IPod 4s and Sunshine Theatre skate punk concerts?  Well, you might not know this but the average APS student spends $73 per week on Fudgesicles, King Cones and Otter Pops.  As the profit margin on these sales is roughly 1,000,000%, large sums that have historically gone to stupid field trips and distant band festivals could be raised simply by doing what’s already being done.   Students could also be overtly and covertly induced to increase their ice cream/choco buys.  For example, turning off all air conditioning units in August would not only save money in reduced electrical usage, but would have an obvious impact on the attractiveness of cheap, crappy ice cream products.  Perhaps APS could enlist the use of those “helado” guys in Barelas/South Valley to go up and down the halls during un-airconditioned classes ringing their on-board bells and going “Helado, helado, helado, heladoooooooo…..” during boring Social  Studies lectures on the Mayans.  Who needs a tax increase for education, when a de facto tax increase is only a Yoo-Hoo Pop away?
  • Devote a year to the study of institutional anarchy by placing all APS administrators on unpaid sabbatical. Billions of teacher lounge hours have been spent wondering what an Admin-Free APS would be like.  Here’s a chance not only to find out, but also to invite a bunch of edu-academic researchers to come in to study the wacky as it unfolds.  Will individual schools raise vigilante groups of parents to raid other schools for needed supplies like LCD Projectors?  Would elementary schools band together in roving packs to lay siege upon middle schools, starving middle schoolers of ice cream and chocolate products until they surrender to become slaves for the elementary gangs as they raid and pillage high schools for their lucrative stocks of visual art and pottery supplies?  Up to now these and a million other scenarios have been merely speculation.  Let’s find out what would really happen, and save some bucks in the process.
  • Go beyond simple attrition to “Super-Attrition” through some sort of Reality TV-like exercise in hi-speed Darwinism. The District has already tried avoiding “pink slips” by letting fate and burnout take its course.  And many employees have left, whether through retirement, pregnancy, hating their principal or becoming sick to the point of psychotic that their classroom ceiling still has water stains from 1997.  And while these willy-nilly staff reductions come at the price of strangely dictating what children learn (“oh, our Art teacher hooked up with a plumber and moved to Missoula…great, no Art Class!”), they evidently haven’t gone far enough.  And that’s where Kinniku Bansuke comes to the rescue.   Teachers, administrators and even custodians try their skill/luck at overcoming obstacles such as “Ottoto 9” and “Bamboo Derby”, with those unable to succeed instantly “pink slipped”.  Better yet, we tie in “Most Extreme Elimination Challenge” and show ultra slo-mo of losers as they fall into pools of unsightly dirty water after having been nearly impaled through the groin by rotating pointy wooden objects made to resemble psychedelic mushrooms.  Other Reality show premises could be stolen, but we would also simplify things.  For instance, boxes of doughnuts are placed in a teacher’s workroom alongside a sign strictly forbidding anyone from eating the doughnuts.  Hidden cameras watch as teachers who handle the stress of their profession through eating prove unable to avoid the temptation.  Doughnut eaters are, of course, immediately fired, but not before being released by a special trap-door into a vat of unsightly dirty brown water full of pointy mushrooms.

Of course these are only a few of many possibilities, which is good because we’ll most likely need to employ every possible idea over the next 2-3 years for shortfalls #2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, etc.

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4 thoughts on “Finding $18.8 million for APS

  1. It was actually in the APS Board minutes just recently–yes, I know I’m a nerd for reading them every month–that the pizza vendors have to bid on the price per slice. It varies a wee bit from vendor to vendor, but the basic cost is 80 cents per slice. My 7th grader pays two dollars a slice at his middle school snack bar. 150% mark up is pretty darn good! New cars for all the administrators…

  2. Steve:

    Funny you bring that up. Every year during one of my “Fast Food Nation” tirades (uh…units) we discuss the cafeteria situation. And every year that pizza extortion comes up. In some years we’ve had students do (actually they decide that on their own) the profit calculations and present the figures to the principal. Who nods his head and such….

    From doing this stuff it is our understanding that back in the mid-00s the profits from the “snack bar” went back to the school’s “discretionary accounts”. More recently, all cafeteria money, snack bar included, bypasses the school and goes right to District Food Services.

    I’ve always thought it would be a pretty interesting story to investigate further. A few students have made calls to Food Services to get more detail, but they “gate keep” pretty well and the energy from both student and myself has, up to now, always fizzled out when the phone calls/emails don’t get returned.

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