A bill advances that gets New Mexico closer to year-round school
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A bill that would add 20 more days to the school year for all New Mexico public education students breezed through a Senate committee Wednesday, but does it have enough time to get through the Legislature?
“If you want to change education in a revolutionary way,” Sen. Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, told the members of the Senate Education Committee, “we can do this right now and it will have a powerful effect on students and teachers.”Sen. Cervantes is sponsoring Senate Bill 575, which would increase the number of school days from 180 to 200 days, but the bill comes with a price — at least $200 million and as much as $310 million more per year.
“It is an expensive proposition,” Cervantes told New Mexico Watchdog after the hearing. “We’re asking for 20 more days of work. People who put in 20 more days of work (teachers, janitors, etc.) are going to be entitled to that …I think this is the most important and boldest opportunity to change the way we educated kids immediately.”
Under the bill, the current summer vacation for every grade in the public education system would be greatly reduced — something Republicans, as well as Democrats, in the committee liked.
“I think year-round school is a great idea,” said Sen. Craig Brandt, R-Rio Rancho. Sen. Lee Cotter, R-Las Cruces, and Sen. John Sapien, D-Albuquerque, said the idea of three months’ summer vacation, established when children were needed to work on farms, is outdated.
“There’s a lot of learning that’s lost in those two or three months of summer,” Cervantes said. “And then teachers spend a lot of time getting (students) back up to speed.”
The Senate Education Committee gave the bill a unanimous do-pass, and it now moves on to the Senate Finance Committee, where the cost could conceivably eat up the entire — if not go beyond — the anticipated $233 million budget increase, which the Legislature Finance Committee estimated lawmakers had for the upcoming fiscal year.
“The challenge is always the financing, I think,” said Cervantes, who has introduced bills similar to SB 575 but fell short. “I’m always encouraged by people in the Legislature. People here want to make a change for our children and our schools.”
But with 10 days left in the session, does it have enough time to get it all the way through the Senate floor and then through the House committee process and the House floor?
“We do,” Cervantes said, adding, “Bills can get introduced and passed through the Legislature very quickly when they have merit.”
Here’s New Mexico Watchdog video of Sen. Cervantes talking about the bill:
Posted under Capitol Report.
Tags: Craig Brandt, John Sapien, Joseph Cervantes, Lee Cotter, New Mexico Senate Education Committee, New Mexico Senate Finance Committee, New Mexico Watchdog, year-round school