Seasons Greetings!! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
The New Mexico Legislature (54th Legislature) begins its deliberations at Noon on January 15, 2019 and ends at Noon on March 16,2019. This Session is the first one in almost 10 years that has significant opportunity to consider financing New Mexico Public Schools at a level that is needed to serve the needs of our students. A “new” House of Representatives will join an experienced Senate in proposing legislation that will affect our students for years to come. With a new Governor, and Secretary of Education, this proves to be an opportunity for us, as practitioners, to make our case for what is needed for our public school children.
So, I am asking that each of you become active in this process. I have spent much of November and December travelling around the state and meeting with you and your legislators to provide our “Policy Recommendations” and answer questions regarding them. I have encountered much support and some push back. It is imperative that we speak with one voice and stay focused on our priorities. As I reviewed with many of you at our last Superintendents Meeting on December 7, we expect to coordinate our efforts with you to have a presence in Santa Fe each day that there is discussion regarding Public Schools. A master calendar will provide you with an opportunity to assure your schedule is well used. As a superintendent, or other school leader, you are called on to take many leadership roles at this time of year. This year, we need to make our presence in Santa Fe a priority.
It will be important that you keep up with the bills regarding public schools as they pass through the legislative process. To assist with this, I will be providing a periodic update on major legislation. However, you can become better informed by actively reviewing the legislation and the committee schedules yourself (daily). To do so, you should become familiar with the website nmlegis.gov. The menu at that site will give you access to bills, analyses of the bills, committee schedules and an array of information that can assist you in being informed. You can find the numbers for your legislators and their email addresses, also.
Generally, the House Education and Senate Education Committees begin their work at 8:00 am on each Monday, Wednesday and Friday (if that changes, I will give you notice). The work of the first 30 days of the Session is usually better paced than the last 30 days, with the last two weeks being a bit of a blur. Please stay in contact with your legislators and be looking for any “all calls” that I may ask for rarely. If I ask for an “all call”, I am going to ask you to make your way to Santa Fe, if at all possible, due to the significance of an issue.
While we are optimistic about the likelihood of significant increases in funding for our public schools, it is never a guarantee that all will proceed easily. The Senate is likely to be the “gatekeeper” as legislation moves forward and is likely to be more conservative in releasing funding as they pay particular attention to the sustainability of the funding over time. Such will be the case in the House Appropriations and Finance Committee where the first budget hearings will occur.
Please stay tuned and involved!