The 2023 Legislative Session has come to an end! This post contains news about the most pressing pieces of education legislation and includes great news regarding our literacy bill!
HB 481: ALIGN SCHOOL READING MATERIALS
As may have heard yesterday, our literacy bill passed the Senate unanimously! The bill now heads to the governor for her signature. We cannot thank you enough for your support and advocacy to ensure New Mexico students have the best resources to learn to read.
Our work to improve literacy will not stop here! This bill is one piece of the solution to the literacy crisis, and we will have more on the importance of literacy instruction in the months ahead. Stay tuned!
HB 130 – K-12 PLUS PROGRAM
HB 130, sponsored by Representatives Andres Romero and Joy Garratt and Senator Mimi Stewart, was signed by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham on Thursday. The bill increases the minimum number of instructional hours from 990 for elementary school and 1,080 for middle and high school to 1,140 for all students.
In a major–somewhat last minute–compromise, the bill was amended so elementary schools can count 60 hours of professional development toward the instructional hours requirement. Middle and high schools can count 30 hours of professional development toward the instructional hours requirement. To see how many instructional hours your district currently provides, you can look at this document starting on page 11.
We believe extended learning time for New Mexico students is an important piece to improving educational outcomes. We are grateful to the bill sponsors and the governor for finding a solution that is supported by many education stakeholders. The passage of HB 130 comes at a critical and urgent time for public education in New Mexico. As last year’s NAEP results indicated, New Mexico students continue to rank last in every educational measure, and student achievement is at its lowest point in decades.
You can learn more about HB130 on New Mexico Education.
HOUSE BILL 126: SCHOOL GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS
HB 126 passed the Senate unanimously on Thursday and heads to the governor’s desk for her signature.
The bill decreases the number of credits required to graduate from 24 to 22, and provides flexibility to school districts to decide which courses they will require for graduation. The primary changes include:
- Eliminating the Algebra II requirement
- Requiring four elective units plus two additional units set by local administrators, rather than 7.5 total elective units
- Eliminating the requirement for an Advanced Placement, Honors, or Dual credit course
Earlier this session, we spoke in opposition of this bill as it removes Algebra II and two semesters of a foreign language as graduation requirements. We believe these courses are important for future success and help our students compete against their peers across the country. We are, however, grateful to the bill sponsors for running an amendment to ensure that these important courses are offered at every high school in New Mexico which will help ensure that all students have access to the coursework they need to pursue their dreams.
HOUSE BILL 417: TEACHER VOCATIONAL ED LICENSURE TRACK
Earlier in the session, we shared that we worked with Representative Pamelya Herndon to introduce House Bill 472, the Career Technical Education Community Educator Act. Unfortunately, our bill was never granted a hearing in the House Education Committee. However, Senator Craig Brandt’s SB 417, which is similar in nature, has flown through its committees and awaits one final vote on the House Floor. We fully support SB472 and are grateful that our policy goal of creating pathways for our tradesmen to serve as community educators is close to being accomplished.
EDUCATOR HEALTHCARE COSTS
There has been a lot of discussion throughout the legislative session about the rising cost of healthcare for our school based staff. Though the governor’s initiative to cover the cost of healthcare for educators did not gain traction, there was a bill passed that may help some educators in New Mexico.
House Bill 533, introduced by Representatives Raymundo Lara and Natalie Figueroa, requires that districts or charter schools cover:
- 80% of premium costs for employees earning less than $50,000 a year;
- 70% of premium costs for employees earning between $50,001 and $60,000 a year; and
- 60% of premium costs for employees earning over $60,000 a year.
This applies to all public school staff including districts and charter schools that offer coverage through NMPSIA and those that offer alternative insurance like Albuquerque Public Schools.
The budget currently includes $32 million to cover the increased costs for school districts and charter schools.
KEY EDUCATION BUDGET ITEMS
The budget has been passed by both chambers and now awaits the governor’s signature. We will have a more in depth look at the education portion of the budget soon. In the meantime, here are a few items included in the budget:
- An 8% increase to the SEG, which is the funding that flows directly to school districts and state-authorized charter schools
- A 5% pay increase for all school staff ($139 million)
- A minimum salary of $25,000 for instructional assistants ($15 million)
- An increase for principal salaries ($8 million)
- An increase to the at-risk factor from .30 to .33 ($32 million)
- Funding to cover the increased instructional hours and new K-12 plus factor ($252 million)
The total K-12 education budget for FY24 is nearly $4.2 billion, up from the current year budget of nearly $3.9 billion.