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Teachers, Parents, Lawmakers Bombard Education Department Over Proposed Five-Day Class Mandate

New Mexico Department of Education Building
Kevin Meerschaert
New Mexico Department of Education Building

A large group of teachers, parents, students  and others packed into a meeting room at the New Mexico Public Education Department to voice their displeasure with a new rule being proposed to require all school districts to move to a five-way class week.

Many rural districts are on a four-day cycle and have been for years.

Last session the legislature passed and the Governor signed HB 130, which changed education requirements increasing instructional time for students to 1,140 hours per school year and allowing more educator professional work time during instructional hours.         

That put the focus on hours instead of days, but the PED is considering requiring a 180-day school year.

Lawmakers are also expressing their displeasure saying the proposed rule goes against what the legislature passed.

Rep. Gail Armstrong told Education Secretary Arsenio Romero his department needs to rethink the 180-day rule.

“I was on the School Board in Magdalina, New Mexico for 15 years. We would always put out a survey, we have a four-day school week there asking the parents and the teachers what they wanted. They never chose to go to a five-day week,” she said. “As a school board member I listened to my constituents, as a state representative, I listened to my constituents. If this was allowed through rule why wasn’t done before? Why are we circumventing the legislative process which specifically says hours and no days?”

The education department has been getting flooded with comments about the proposed rule nearly all in opposition.

Romero did not attend Monday’s public hearing but he did tell lawmakers last week that he welcomed the feedback and it will be considered when a final decision is made.

If approved, the across the board five-day school week would be implemented next fall.