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          Front Page


Saturday, March 1, 2003

House OKs Measure for Schools

By Barry Massey
The Associated Press
    SANTA FE The House approved on Friday the centerpiece legislation of a school improvement campaign that has the backing of business groups, educational organizations and Gov. Bill Richardson.
    A key provision in the school overhaul package will implement a three-level, competency-based licensing system for teachers and establish a statewide minimum salary plan linked to the new licensing.
    The House approved the bill 57-5 and sent it to the Senate for consideration.
    Richardson wants lawmakers to finish work on school reform proposals next week.
    In particular, Richardson is pushing for a proposed constitutional amendment to overhaul the school governance system by creating a cabinet-level secretary of education who answers to the governor.
    A Senate-passed proposal would also transform the state Board of Education into a 10-member elective but advisory commission.
    The House-passed reform package, mainly the proposed salary changes, is estimated to cost about $100 million to phase in through 2007-2008. In addition, the legislation includes some of Richardson's initiatives, such as provisions for a 6 percent pay increase for teachers that's financed in a separate budget bill.