State Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, (D-Los Alamos, Santa Fe, Sandoval and Rio Arriba), may be new to the legislature, but she’s managed to get everyone’s attention with a proposed constitutional amendment that seeks to adequately fund New Mexico’s schools.
The amendment would reduce the number of children per classroom in all New Mexico school districts by the 2020-21 school year, a task that may take about $800 million in new construction and new hires to accomplish, according to an impact report prepared by the Legislative Finance Committee.
Since it is an amendment to the constitution, that means that if it passes the legislature, it will become a referendum that will go before voters.
“This is why I’m interested in putting this forth as a constitutional amendment,” Garcia Richard said. “It takes it to the people that should have a part in this decision-making process. It takes it to the parents; it takes it to the educators, bottom-line, to all the taxpayers. It’s for them to make the decision.”
If it passes that test, then the amendment will be gradually phased in, starting in the school year 2015-16.
Though 2020 may seem like a long way off, Garcia Richard said serious commitment to funding New Mexico’s public schools need to start now.