As we move New Mexico Schools back to engaged, face to face, for a majority of our students, I know that each of you is taking an active role in what that looks like in your district. This “restart” is not without complication or challenge and I am certain that each of you is setting the tone for this return to “engaged practice.” I have had the chance to visit several of you in-person over the first part of April and I continue to be even more sure that our students and communities are blessed to have your focused and quality leadership. Lots to do!
I appreciated a visit I made to a school where the teacher’s lounge had a table with all sorts of orange “prizes” for the staff with a note posted that said, “Orange you glad you have 40 more days to be with your students?” What a delightful message of inspiration and anticipation of the chance to be together in this journey of education that has been so interrupted for so long!
We now know what the General Appropriations Act provides for our funding and we know what language there is within the bill to instruct us on the use of funds. And, we also now have the unit value and the 910B-5 documents that allow us to get to budget finalization. The unit value is up 5.16% at $4,770.70. Included within that number is a 1.5% salary increase for all educational personnel that is no longer an average (as that language was vetoed in HB2/3 - General Appropriations Act).
In a surprise but welcome veto within HB2/3, the Governor also struck the language which restricted districts from setting a four-day calendar if they were not already a district with such a calendar. This move opens the 2021-22 year as a year for districts to exercise the option of instituting a four-day calendar. At my last count, there were six districts that had expressed the interest to go to a four-day calendar format. Now that Extended Learning and K-5+ have become somewhat more flexible and now can be “stacked” or “reverse stacked,” it may be an opportunity for districts to rethink their instructional design for the first time in many years. To enable this, the Governor signed SB40 which provided for the days to extend throughout the year and for districts to have more control on how to design their overall calendar, possibly taking advantage of the additional days.
The Governor signed HB331 which provides for a save-harmless funding process for each district’s student transportation operation. With HB2/3, replacement of buses is enhanced and the salaries for all transportation employees will be increased by 1½%.
As we plan, budget, design, calendar, and launch the 2020-21 school year, know that NMCEL/NMSA continue to support you and stand ready to assist with those efforts! We are in this together and together we will shape a successful future for our children!