Special Report

New Mexico

January 04, 2005 1 min read

New Mexico made major changes to its school finance system with the 1974 Public School Finance Act, which is still in place. The state pays for education using a foundation formula based on a weighted student enrollment. Enrollment is weighted through several “cost-differential factors” that add money based on certain district characteristics. Each district’s foundation level is adjusted by such factors as the “teacher-training and -experience index,” by the number of special education students, and for small rural schools and districts. The state also provides categorical aid for transportation, reading initiatives, professional development, compensatory education, early-childhood education, technology, and school construction. New Mexico has joined a consortium of states, organized by the Washington-based Council of Chief State School Officers, to conduct a study of how much it will cost each state to meet the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. New Mexico has faced two court battles over the constitutionality of its school finance formula. In the first case, the court granted the state’s motion for dismissal. The second case, Zuni School District v. State, challenged the state’s method for financing school facilities. As a result, the state has established a new system to pay for school facilities and added substantial resources for school construction.