Legislature Focuses on Pre-K, Charters
The following offers highlights of the recent legislative sessions. Precollegiate enrollment figures are based on fall 2005 data reported by state officials for public elementary and secondary schools. The figures for precollegiate education spending do not include federal flow-through funds, unless noted.
The New Mexico legislature passed a fiscal 2007 budget that provides $2.3 billion for preK-12 education, which is a 7.7 percent increase for primary and secondary education over the current fiscal year.
The 2007 budget includes $8 million to support the state’s new prekindergarten program. Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat, signed legislation last year to create the program, which was started this school year. The $8 million will be split between traditional schools that operate prekindergarten programs and accredited child-care providers that run such programs.
The budget also includes $500,000 to support legislation passed by state lawmakers this year that revamped the state’s charter school law. The revised law, for the first time, permits charter schools to be authorized and monitored by either the state’s public education department or school districts. The founder and board of each charter school can request who will be its authorizer. The $500,000 in the budget will be used to establish a charter school division in the state education department.
In addition, lawmakers appropriated $2 million for anti-obesity programs and physical education in elementary schools. “Our elementary schools have not had consistent physical education programs for some time,” said Catherine Cross Maple, the deputy Cabinet secretary for the education department, adding that elementary schools have lacked the resources to maintain physical education programs.
Vol. 25, Issue 33, Page 32