School & District Management

N.M. Governor Signs Package Of School Reform Bills

By Michelle Galley — April 16, 2003 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Schools in New Mexico face significant changes as a result of sweeping legislation that has been signed by Gov. Bill Richardson after passing the legislature with bipartisan support.

With state business leaders and education groups backing most of the provisions, the package of policy changes covers a broad array of education issues, ranging from teacher salaries to district governance.

In a signing ceremony held on April 5 at Rio Grande High School in Albuquerque, Gov. Richardson, a Democrat who took office in January, signed 18 pieces of school-related legislation that he said “represents comprehensive reform that students, teachers, and parents of New Mexico expect and deserve.”

Much of the new legislation stemmed from the work of a 64-member task force of business leaders and education representatives that the state legislature formed four years ago to study ways to improve student achievement in the state.

The broadest piece of legislation, House Bill 212, creates a new, three-tiered system for teacher salaries, and sets a minimum salary for teachers at $30,000 a year, starting in December. Now, the minimum salary for teachers in New Mexico is $22,000.

“This was a consensus bill that a broad spectrum of the community supported,” said Charles Boyer, the director of government relations for the National Education Association of New Mexico, a statewide teachers’ union.

Under the new salary schedule, starting teachers would stay in the first tier for about three years and would receive mentoring from more experienced educators.

The salary system, which was approved by a wide margin in the state’s House of Representatives and unanimously in the Senate, is slated to be fully implemented in five years. At that point, the minimum salary for teachers in the second tier is to be $40,000, and teachers in the top tier are to receive at least $50,000 a year.

Specific criteria for moving up through the system will be determined by the state department of education.

The governor also signed the state budget into law at the signing ceremony. The budget for fiscal 2004 includes a 6 percent pay raise for teachers, and a 3 percent raise for all other school employees.

Ballot Questions Approved

The laws also call for a public referendum on a constitutional amendment that would replace the current state superintendent of public instruction, an elected position, with a secretary of education appointed by the governor.

The state board of education would become an advisory commission, but would remain elected under the proposed new governance structure. Michael J. Davis, the current state superintendent, said in a statement that he does not oppose the public vote, but, he added, a change in governance does not guarantee improvements in education.

Also going before voters is a plan that would raise public schools’ share of money from a state fund that receives revenue from the use of land that is dedicated to public schools but used for other purposes.

One of the measures the governor signed means that local school board members will no longer be allowed to make decisions regarding the hiring and firing of school personnel, and instead will be required to leave such matters to district superintendents.

“This was the only section of the law we had problems with,” said Mack Mitchell, the executive director of the New Mexico School Boards Association. He added that the new law will change the “checks and balances in the system.”

Other measures the governor signed into law include bills that:

  • Direct school districts to offer fine arts programs, including visual arts, music, theater, and dance, to elementary school students;
  • Require school districts to allocate an additional 1 percent of their budgets to classroom instruction;
  • Mandate that school districts decrease the amount of money they hold in reserve accounts;
  • Call for schools to provide distance-learning opportunities to students with special needs, including necessary extra equipment or technology;
  • Create the Indian Education Division within the state department of education focused on ensuring that Native American students in public schools receive an “equitable” and “culturally relevant” education; and
  • Establish a Public Schools Facility Authority that will assist school districts with capital-improvement projects.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Budget & Finance Webinar
The ABCs of ESSER: How to Make the Most of Relief Funds Before They Expire
Join a diverse group of K-12 experts to learn how to leverage federal funds before they expire and improve student learning environments.
Content provided by Johnson Controls
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Modernizing Principal Support: The Road to More Connected and Effective Leaders
When principals are better equipped to lead, support, and maintain high levels of teaching and learning, outcomes for students are improved.
Content provided by BetterLesson
Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Opinion Principals: Supporting Your Teachers Doesn't Have to Be Such Hard Work
Principals can show teachers they care by something as simple as a visit to their classrooms or a pat on the back.
12 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
School & District Management From Our Research Center Nearly Half of Educators Say Climate Change Is Affecting Their Schools—or Will Soon
Most educators said their school districts have not taken any action to prepare for more severe weather, a new survey finds.
6 min read
Global warming illustration, environment pollution, global warming heating impact concept. Change climate concept.
Collage by Gina Tomko/Education Week and iStock/Getty Images Plus
School & District Management Opinion 7 Ways Principals Can Support Teachers
Listening more than talking is one vital piece of advice for school leaders to help teachers.
13 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
School & District Management What Schools Can Do to Tackle Climate Change (Hint: More Than You Think)
For starters, don't assume change is too difficult.
7 min read
Haley Williams, left, and Amiya Cox hold a sign together and chant while participating in a "Global Climate Strike" at the Experiential School of Greensboro in Greensboro, N.C., on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. Across the globe hundreds of thousands of young people took the streets Friday to demand that leaders tackle climate change in the run-up to a U.N. summit.
Haley Williams, left, and Amiya Cox participate in a Global Climate Strike at the Experiential School of Greensboro in Greensboro, N.C., in September 2019.
Khadejeh Nikouyeh/News & Record via AP