The New Mexico Legislature has unanimously confirmed Dr. Karen Trujillo as the Secretary of Public Education. She is a New Mexico native and brings a strong, diverse practitioner background to the job. Karen served on the NMCEL Board for many years and has been a champion for supporting our teacher educator development through her many roles including Educators Rising. Already, she has reached out to Superintendents and other educational leaders to engage the “field” in policy direction and decision-making. In her Senate Rules Committee Hearing, she used a fitting analogy to a rebuilding of a northern New Mexico church in which her family was part, in urging us, New Mexicans, to build back our New Mexico Public Education System “adobe by adobe and brick by brick” until it is a fulfillment of our community. Congratulations to our new Secretary of Public Education, Dr. Karen Trujillo!
The Legislature is finishing its business during the first of this month and is scheduled to adjourn at noon on March 16. The work that is likely to be accomplished includes the passage of new public school changes that incorporates an increase to the number of instructional days including “extended learning time” and “K-5+” which are both optional program decisions by local districts that are funded for a total of approximately $212.7 million. A key consideration for districts will be whether to amend calendars and pursue those options for next school year. Additionally, the legislature is likely to provide approximately $113.2 million for all districts through an increased “at-risk factor” (raised to 0.250 from 0.130) and approximately $160.1 million for compensation increases for public school personnel. Additionally, there is a large increase for instructional materials likely amounting to a total (recurring and non-recurring) of $56.5 million.
It is likely that the Martinez/Yazzie Lawsuit review by the Courts on/about April 15, 2019 will prove to determine if the approach taken by the Legislature, and the “plan” that the Legislature has adopted through the General Appropriations Act and HB5/SB1 actions, are sufficient to convince the court of compliance with Judge Singleton’s ruling. Certainly, the roughly 16% increase in public school funding will rank as one of the largest efforts of the last 30 or more years.
As we move forward to the end of this school year and emerge into the new fiscal year, the public schools in New Mexico are challenged to design and implement the changes from this legislation. We urge districts to immediately begin to determine their trajectory options in these implementations. One feature of the legislation in the General Appropriations Act that is likely to prove wise will be the re-creation of the State Support Reserve Fund designed to assure that the PED is able to set initial unit value as high as possible. The GAA places $25 million into that fund to protect the “credit” assumptions in the GAA and, for FY 20, any unexpended funds from the public school fund (including extended learning and K-5+ funds) will revert to the State Support Reserve Fund assuring future expenditure of those funds will remain in the public school stream.
Indeed, we are off to a “running start” for next year. We stand ready to support our membership in planning and strategic design. We are as close as your phone.