.....Advertisement.....
.....Advertisement.....

Schools fight for assurances in proposed funding bill

-A A +A
By Carol A. Clark

House Bill 241, if passed as written, would drastically modify the formula used by the Public Education Department to fund school districts in New Mexico. Los Alamos Public Schools stand to lose $1.87 million, despite the fact that some $350 million will be added to the total state school funding pot.This looming threat has caused concern among members of the local board of education, and Friday all five board members signed a letter to the Legislature in opposition to HB 241.“The Board of Education of the Los Alamos Public Schools hereby expresses our opposition to HB 241 as currently written. The proposed legislation, if passed, will have disastrous ramifications for our district.”In their letter, board members also stated the “Hold Harmless” provision of HB241, which directly impacts Los Alamos, must guarantee school districts will receive no less than the funds received this year plus an inflation factor in perpetuity.Superintendent James Anderson has attended legislative committee meetings at the Roundhouse on this issue and said the school board drafted an excellent statement. “It’s very well done and has already been distributed to our lobbyist and our three representatives in the Legislature,” Anderson said, adding that the bill has been temporarily tabled while the House Appropriations Committee puts together a subcommittee to meet with Rep. Mimi Stewart who introduced the bill.“I would encourage people to go down to the Roundhouse when this bill is in committees and speak on behalf of Los Alamos,” School Board President Alison Beckman said.In a column in Tuesday’s Monitor, Beckman and school board member Joan Ahlers detailed the negative impact HB241 as written will have on the local school district. They explained the loss of $1.87 million in funding would affect core academic programs, career and technical education, gifted programs, bilingual-multicultural programs, arts and music, health and physical education, special education and appropriate staff, and athletics and extracurricular activities.Gifted education will no longer fall under the umbrella of special education, they said, adding there will be inadequate gifted funding for the identified gifted population and no Individualized Education Plans (IEPs).The state average increase per district under the new bill will be 28.09 percent, the “increase” for LAPS will be -7.08 percent.LAPS is one of only three districts that will lose money under the proposed bill. The other two districts’ losses combined are less than $90,000, Beckman said.A “Hold Harmless” provision of the bill guarantees LAPS will receive no less than the funds received this year plus an inflation factor. However, this guarantee is only extended for two years. After two years, LAPS will be required to absorb the $1.87 million loss.To read House Bill 241 and track it through the committees see http://legis. state .nm.us/LC.