The APS board voted 6-1 in favor of the change during a committee meeting Tuesday. Technically, the board must vote again at tonight’s regular board meeting to complete the change, but the item is listed on the meeting’s consent agenda, which means it will likely be approved without comment.
In 2012, the board changed the district’s policy so that employee-lawmakers would not be paid for the time they missed. State lawmakers in New Mexico do not receive a salary, but do receive per diems.
But the board was not able to negotiate that change in the teachers’ union contract. So for the past two years, teachers who served in the Legislature have been paid for time missed, while other employees, including administrators, have not.
“I think we really should consider treating everyone the same,” said APS board President Analee Maestas.
The lone dissenter was board member Marty Esquivel. He said he didn’t think the district should have to pay for employees to serve in the Legislature, among other concerns.
“Yes, we have a citizen Legislature. Yes, we want to encourage people from all walks of life to participate. But that doesn’t mean we have to finance it, especially now that our resources are so limited,” Esquivel said.
He added that it is a big concern when teachers leave the classroom for a month or two months – depending on the length of the legislative session.
Other board members said Esquivel’s concerns were valid, but they did not want to discourage teachers from seeking office.
“I understand the fact that we’re not here to pay for people to represent us, but then again I see the other side of it,” board member Steven Michael Quezada said. “I’m kind of torn between them. I think if I had to pick one, I would pick being more of a positive role in encouraging our teachers and our principals and people who work on our staff to run for office and be a part of the process.”
Board member Don Duran said the bigger problem is the state doesn’t pay its lawmakers.
Employees will be paid for time they miss during the legislative session and an additional 10 days – to serve on interim committees or carry out other legislative duties – said Carrie Robin Brunder, APS legislative liaison and policy analyst.
There are currently four APS employees serving as legislators, and one of them is a teacher, Brunder said.