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SANTA FE— New Mexico needs to revamp how it distributes more than $2 billion a year in taxpayer money to public schools because the current system is too complicated, difficult to administer and shortchanges needy students, according to a report released Wednesday.
Two legislative committees issued the report critical of the state’s school funding formula, which was established in the 1970s and is supposed to treat districts equitably. Nearly half of the state’s annual budget goes to pay for operations of New Mexico’s more than 170 school districts and charter schools.
The Legislative Finance Committee and Legislative Education Study Committee said the school funding formula has “generally served the state well” but needs to be modernized.
“Some elements of the funding formula create incentives that run contrary to, or do not effectively support, recent education policy and research,” the report said.
For example, the current financing system rewards schools for placing students into special education programs rather than intervening earlier to help those children, lawmakers were told. The formula provides a base amount of funding for all students but then provides for extra aid tied to other factors, such as the size of the school and student needs including special education services.
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