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New Mexico Public Education Department Presents Budget Request To Lawmakers

Kevin Meerschaert
Education Secretary Dr. Kurt Steinhaus (L) and Simon Miller, Principal Analyst, New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration address the Legislative Education Study Committee on Tuesday.

New Mexico’s Public Education Department wants to try some new ideas in reducing the state’s achievement gap.

State Secretary of Education Kurt Steinhaus says while the graduation rates of economically and non-economically disadvantaged students are both on the rise, the gap between the two has been growing in recent years.

While presenting the PED’s budget proposals Tuesday to the Legislative Education Study Committee, Steinhaus said the department wants to focus on moving the needle to increase student achievement and close the gaps between the economic classes of students.      

He says he has been looking at what some school districts have been doing that has been shown to be successful.

Steinhaus says one very promising area is expanding what is called “high dosage tutoring” where students are tutored at least three times a week. 

“You might imagine tutoring as helping someone after school for 20 minutes. That’s a little bit of help, beautiful you’re really going to address the achievement gap you do high dosage tutoring,” he said. “The second one is finding more time for kids to be engaged in learning. It sounds pretty simple, but it’s hard to accomplish and the New Mexico Legislature has been supportive of helping us find the funding to provide teachers with the money they need to pay them for their extra time.”

Among the budget requests from Steinhaus is nearly $33 million for instructional materials including core instructional and New Mexico centered cultural and linguistic materials and $15 million to continue the Family Income Index pilot for at-risk interventions.

The PED is also asking for six and a half million dollars for behavioral health support and $11.5 million to expand community schools from the current 69 to 104.

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