Community turns out for HB241 briefing

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By Carol A. Clark

The potentially disastrous ramifications facing the district should House Bill 241 pass in the upcoming legislative session drew residents and school personnel to Fuller Lodge Thursday evening.

School Board President Steve Girrens introduced Superintendent Mary McLeod saying she recently concluded an extensive study into the results of the funding formula proposed but not passed last session.

“If HB241 passes, the difference to the district is $2,642,188 less,” McLeod said. “The cut equates to a 9.7 percent reduction” in funding.

Enrollment is a factor and McLeod said the district has experienced declining enrollment for the last four years.

During her detailed PowerPoint present, McLeod took the audience through a litany of reasons why Los Alamos Public Schools will suffer great loss under the new funding formula. She and others are planning to meet face to face with pertinent legislators and state officials between now and January when the 2009 session gets underway.

She is pushing for a “Hold Harmless” clause for LAPS, if the new formula is approved.

“This should include an inflation index,” McLeod said. “This should also be stated as being in perpetuity.”

A strategic plan is under construction to convince legilators to reject the proposed bill and McLeod is asking the public to submit ideas to her at m.mcleod@laschools.net.

She also hopes to organize a letter writing campaign during the legislative session.

Rep. Mimi Stewart, D-Bernalillo, sponsored the bill last year and because it allocates additional funding to the majority of New Mexico school districts, received enthusiastic statewide support.

The session ended before the bill made it through the Senate but is expected to return in January with even stronger support.

If passed, HB241 is expected to take effect fall 2009.