May 16, 2023

Interim legislative education committee starts look forward at 2024 legislative session

The New Mexico State Capitol, or Roundhouse Wikicommons.

As the Legislative Education Study, an interim legislative committee, considers what it might recommend for the 2024 Legislative session, the committee heard about a STEM scholar program and the educational funding formula.

John Sena, Legislative Education Study deputy director, discussed educational funding formulas. He said the current formula “was really progressive in the ‘70s.”

“It continues to be pretty progressive but the question is whether there is enough money in the formula,” he said.

He said districts receive more funding if they are serving more at-risk students or providing for more special education students.

Another listening session included University of New Mexico scientists who presented information about a public teacher science scholar program called the Rose Project.

Two teachers, Maggie Romero, who teaches at Arrowhead Park Early College High School in Las Cruces, and Daniel Delgado, a teacher at Cuba High School, both spoke about how inspirational the program has been for them to work in University of New Mexico scientific laboratories and participate in real world science investigations. Steve Cabaniss, a professor of environmental chemistry at UNM, called it “an apprentice program.”

Romero and Delgado both said the program gave them more credibility in their classrooms and they were able to take their passion and excite their students in the classroom with information on cutting edge science.

Cabaniss said the program would like to find a way to attract teachers from districts all over the state. He said they’ve had more success with teachers in northern New Mexico and the Albuquerque metropolitan area, though they send out notices to every district.

He said some portion of the program is funded through a grant program, not through legislative appropriation. He said the program will likely ask for an increase to the grant. Both the New Mexico Public Education Department and Higher Education Department provide funding to the program.

Update: This story was updated to reflect that both PED and HED contribute to the Rose Project.