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Martinez-Yazzie Funding Ahead Of Targets, Results Still Lagging

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Kevin Meerschaert via Zoom
Public Education Secretary Kurt Steinhaus and LFC Program Evaluator Rachel Mercer Garcia address members of the Legislative Finance Committee on Friday.

A report to the Legislative Finance Committee says the state of New Mexico has surpassed recurring funding formula targets set forth from the Martinez-Yazzie lawsuit by six-percent or about 220-million dollars. Since the 2018 ruling the state has invested more than one-billion dollars in funding for at-risk students, evidence-based programs and teacher salaries.     

But the report also says despite the additional funding, student outcomes are still lagging when compared to other states.

LFC Program Evaluator Rachel Mercer Garcia told the committee on Friday that oversight challenges remain in the Public Education Department to make sure districts are using the  additional dollars for at-risk students in the best manner.   

“The department has taken some action to address that oversight gap by implementing new budgeting codes and reports for reviewing school budgets and education plans with greater scrutiny this year,” she said. “The department reports that they actually sent back about a third of school district and charter school education plans for revision looking for alignment between budget and education.”        

In 2018, the 1st Judicial Circuit Court ruled the state failed to provide a sufficient public education to at-risk students, and mandated changes be made. 

Public Education Secretary Kurt Steinhaus told the committee his department is already making improvements in some of the areas the report addressed and isw working with districts to see what additional help they need and to make sure the improvements are implemented.

Kevin Meerschaert comes to Santa Fe from Jacksonville, Florida where he spent the past 20 years covering politics, government and pretty much everything else.