Legislature

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New Mexico State Capital Building

The New Mexico Public Education Department received a $400 million boost during the recently concluded legislative session, including $200 million for school districts and charter schools and $215 million for various evidence-based initiatives.

“In 2019, Gov. Lujan Grisham promised a moonshot to create the nation’s best cradle-to-career education system. The New Mexico Legislature has provided much-needed fuel as we continue on that historic trajectory,” said Secretary Ryan Stewart in a New Mexico Public Education Department statement.

Family income index

The NMPED proposed the Family Income Index to the Legislature in November 2020 as a tool to identify schools serving low-income populations and to direct additional funding to them. Senate Bill 17, which was passed in the Roundhouse and signed into law by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, appropriates $30 million over two years to support math and reading interventions and other student-support strategies.

Community schools

The state Legislature appropriated $5 million for FY22 and $20 million thereafter to support the community school strategy. The new funding will build on the success of the 33 community schools currently funded by the state through expanded partnerships with local communities to provide resources and mitigate barriers to school success.

Impact aid

The Legislature provided school districts with federally impacted land access to more than $60 million by passing House Bill 6. The bill also requires transparency and accountability for the use of discretionary funds.

The governor supported the measure, which ends the practice of reducing state funding by an amount equal to 75 percent of federal funding for impact aid, as part of the state’s response to the Yazzie–Martinez lawsuit ruling.

Permanent funding

The Legislature adopted House Joint Resolution 1, which would tap 1 percent of the Permanent Fund annually for early childhood and K-12 education. The constitutional amendment will be put to a vote on the ballot in November.

“This is an opportunity to impact generations of New Mexico students,” said Secretary Stewart. “Assuming voters agree, New Mexico’s children would be protected from the boom-bust cycles of state revenues with a reliable and fixed source of annual revenue.”

Inclusive education

The Black Education Act, House Bill 43, would help meet the needs of Black students by creating an oversight liaison at the NMPED.

The Special Education Ombud Act, House Bill 222, provides resources to meet the needs of students with disabilities.

House Bill 29/Senate Bill 80 would prevent students wearing traditional hairstyles, like dreadlocks or braids, or religious head coverings from being penalized.

The Bilingual Multicultural Education Advisory council was created and signed into law by the governor after House Bill 52 passed in the Legislature.

Educator workforce

The Grow Your Own Teachers Act, House Bill 22, expands scholarships programs for those seeking to teach, and was signed into law by the governor.

House Bill 188 would create an NMPED license endorsement in secondary computer science, and allow teachers to qualify by demonstrating sufficient content knowledge.

Educators applying for National Board Certification would have $5 million in scholarship funding available through the General Appropriations Act, House Bill 2. The Act also includes $1 million for teacher residencies, $1 million for the state’s new educator evaluation program ‘Elevate NM’ and $1 million for mobile panic buttons for classroom teachers.

More school time

Senate Bill 40, amended to be optional, gives districts and charter schools more flexibility in the K-5 Plus and Extended Learning Time programs.

HB-2 provides a $70 million non-recurring appropriation for a pilot project on extended learning using equivalent hours.

“Increasing the time students spend learning is a proven strategy to improve academic outcomes. Although the Legislature decided against making these two programs mandatory, we appreciate the new flexibilities afforded by SB-40 and the pilot project outlined in HB-2,” said Stewart in an NMPED statement.

“Because of these important changes, we fully expect many more districts and schools to adapt an extended school year program in the coming year as a powerful tool to accelerate learning as students return to full in-person learning,” said Stewart.

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