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Superintendent's News

Posted: February 24, 2023

Lots on the Table as Legislature Kicks Into High Gear

Lawmakers considering several bills that would impact APS

Every year, state lawmakers convene in Santa Fe to do the people’s business – passing a budget, crafting new laws and amending others that are already on the books.

This year, lawmakers convened for a 60-day session, and with only three weeks before they adjourn, they have started working into the night on consequential legislation that will impact all of us. In order to be enacted into law, a bill must pass both the House of Representatives and Senate and be signed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. And the identical bill must get through both chambers of the Legislature by noon on March 18, which is when the session ends.

Several of the bills being considered will affect APS students and employees, with everything from more time in school to raises for educators on the table. With that in mind, these are the bills that we are watching closely.

House Bill 2 is the General Appropriation Act, the legislation that funds everything from state government to public schools. The House approved a $9.4 billion budget bill on Thursday and sent it to the Senate for consideration. The version passed by the House would fund a longer school year and provide increased funding for such things as services for at-risk students. It also funds pay raises for school district employees and enough money to allow the state to provide historic pay increases for instructional assistants.

House Bill 126 would decrease the number of high school graduation credits required under state statute. Specifically, it would reduce the number of credits required from 24 to 22 by eliminating the Algebra II requirement and the requirement that students take a dual credit, advanced placement, honors, or distance education course. It’s worth noting that even if this bill is enacted into law it would be up to each school board to decide whether to lower its graduation requirements. The House approved the legislation on Wednesday.

House Bill 130 would increase instructional hours for public school students to 1,140, which would be an increase of 150 hours for most elementary students and 60 hours for most other students. The bill would allow up to 60 instructional hours per year to be used for such things as professional development and home visiting or parent-teacher conferences. The bill would allow school districts to decide whether they reach the additional hours by making the school day longer or extending the school year, and educators would be compensated for the extra time. Many of you are wondering what this will look like for you and your school, but we won’t know until we see the final language. The House Education and House Judiciary committees are recommending that the bill be approved.

House Bill 199 would modify the formula used to fund public schools by providing more money for at-risk students and fine arts education programs, among other things.

And finally, Senate Bill 131 would make several changes to the Public School Capital Outlay Act. The overall effect is that it would allow APS to tap into this money for building projects. The House Education Committee is scheduled to discuss the bill on Monday.

All of these bills are significant for our students, and to you and me as APS employees, and we appreciate all of the work and time that lawmakers are putting in to ensure they make the best decisions for our state. Our government affairs team is studying the potential impact of every education bill introduced and advocating for us. I want to thank Dr. Joseph Escobedo and Teise Reiser for the countless hours they’ve spent tracking these bills and making sure that lawmakers know how APS will be impacted by each one.

Have a great weekend.