In just a few short weeks the citizens of New Mexico will once again go to the polls to elect a new Governor and members of the House of Representatives. Whatever the outcome of the election, we know that our job is to help our elected officials gain a better understanding of how public schools are funded and just how much districts and schools do with the public funds allocated to them. To that end the Executive Board of the NM Coalition of Educational Leaders and the Executive Council of the NM School Superintendents’ Association came together to determine their legislative priorities for the upcoming 60-day legislative session.
This past year, the two organizations formed one platform and then invited the NM School Boards Association to support the platform. These three major organizations spoke with one voice which made a huge impact during the 2014 legislative session. The platform contained five priorities: Increase funding for K-12 public education, provide funding for the micro-district districts (those with 200 mem or less), increase and adjust the New Mexico teacher pay scale, reject any new unfunded mandates, and increase the distribution for the Land Grant Permanent Fund for public education. We made progress on four of the five areas, albeit not to the degree that we might want, but progress nonetheless. A very important point of clarification was the understanding of “above and below the line” funding. Because it is not clearly understood that only the funds above the line go directly to districts for their use and discretion, the general public does not understand why districts can’t make do with the much publicized increases to public education. You may recall that during the 2013 session, even the media outlets picked up this story which helped bring about a better understanding of how districts are funded.
Our legislative priorities work group has identified five key areas on which to focus requests for the upcoming session. Funding is and probably always will be one of the priorities; the other four include: issues around testing, teacher and principal evaluations, graduation and the diploma requirements and recruitment and retention of educators at all levels-both in the classroom and in the principalship.
In addition, PED staff is in discussion with groups of Superintendents on proposed legislation being drafted for the upcoming session. Thus far, these include bills from the 2013 session: Academic Success through Remediation, Educator Advancement, Administrator Eligibility and the Adjunct Teacher Bill.
Finally, the Legislative Education Study Council (LESC) has a sub group of its members working on Charter School issues. They have been meeting immediately after each LESC meeting since July. Most of their discussion to date has focused on the Charter School Act and necessary clean up language. They are now addressing and discussing issues of funding and governance. We should see some draft legislation beginning to emerge based on these discussions. We are lucky to have our own colleague, Logan Superintendent Dennis Roch as the vice chair of this sub-committee.
As we continue to flesh out our legislative platform and receive information about proposed legislation from other groups, that information will be shared through this newsletter and on our website. Please feel free to provide input via your superintendent or one of our Board members. It takes all of us working together to effect positive and useful legislation.
Gloria O. Rendón
NMCEL Executive Director
President, Crit Caton, Superintendent from Artesia. Erik Bose, APS Principal was elected President-elect.
Welcome back to the 2014-2015 school year! I hope everyone had the opportunity to re-charge your batteries over the past two months. A special thanks goes out to all who attended our NMCEL conference this past July. Our NMCEL Organization truly appreciates the support you show through your attendance and hopes that each of you gained some valuable information to assist you this coming year. I want to take this opportunity to thank each of you for being a vital part of our educational system in New Mexico. Thank you for your hard work and dedication as we look forward to another exciting school year.
Crit D. Caton, Ed.D.