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N.M. Schools

Insider tidbits, analysis and some wonky commentary about education in New Mexico, and particularly Albuquerque

Some bills have actually passed

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From reading my colleagues’ coverage of the legislative session, it sometimes feels like a lot of things aren’t happening. A vote isn’t being taken on Hanna Skandera’s confirmation, at least for now, and lots of bills seem to be tabled or moving slowly. But according to the Legislature’s website, 79 bills have passed both chambers and await the Governor’s signature or veto. I combed through those bills looking for ones that have to do with education, and I’ve laid them out here for your reading pleasure.

HB 273: This act, sponsored by Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton, D-Albuquerque, changed one word in the act that created the public school capital outlay fund, from “may” to “shall.” Previously, school lease payments had to be adjusted according to the consumer price index, and these adjustments are now optional. I don’t know why that’s important. This is a round-up on my blog, not an in-depth explanatory story.

SB147: This act, sponsored by Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, updates the definitions and descriptions of what constitutes “education technology.” This matters, because technology can be paid for with capital dollars, taking some strain off school districts’ operational budgets. In particular, the definition now includes software licenses, which can be very expensive and which districts have previously had to pay for with operating dollars. I know from my illustrious career sitting in APS committee meetings that the APS folks have been hoping for this language change.

SB164: This act, sponsored by Sen. Nancy Rodriguez, D-Santa Fe, loosens restrictions on funding for the New Mexico School for the Arts. Current law says the school must use private funding to pay for outreach, room and board. The bill amends this language to say the school can use other kinds of public funding, just not the money it receives through the state funding formula. My colleague T.S. Last has covered this issue.

SB302: This act, sponsored by Sen. Craig Brandt, R-Rio Rancho, would mean traditional public schools can receive funding for homeschooled or charter school students who take one or more classes at their schools. Under the current system, many school districts do not allow students to enroll in just one or two classes, because schools don’t receive state funding to cover the cost of having an additional student in class. My colleague Elaine Briseno laid out the issue in this story.

Finally, I’ll be writing a story for tomorrow’s paper that lays out HB542 and HJM38, which both relate to community schools. I hope you can stand the suspense.

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