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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico’s largest school district wants to use federal pandemic funding to prevent staff layoffs.

A proposal from Albuquerque Public Schools released Monday would direct $50 million in pandemic relief to offset a loss of state money tied to enrollment decline.

Superintendent Scott Elder said in a video conference the district lost around 5,000 students and around $50 million in state funding.

“One of the big points of federal money was to allow districts a year to try to stabilize themselves, and without having to do massive layoffs,” Elder said.

If adopted in the final budget, that stabilization would account for 25 percent of the nearly $200 million the district gets in the next and largest round of federal relief funds for schools.

Around 15% of the proposed budget is aimed at helping chronically absent students.

The district also proposed buying more student laptops, upgrading ventilation, and paying up to $5,250 in student loans for district employees.

New Mexico school funding is based on student enrollment numbers from the previous year. Enrollment has dropped around 1 percent every year for the past decade due to population change. It dropped an additional 4 percent last year as some families chose to homeschool instead of participating in remote learning through public school.

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