Funding Fairness, Adequacy Lead RRPS's Legislative Priority List
Posted on 12/19/2019
“Fair, equitable and adequate funding” tops Rio Rancho Public Schools’ (RRPS) wish list for the 2020 session of the New Mexico State Legislature adopted by the RRPS Board of Education. Approximately 95% of the school district’s funding comes from state government. RRPS has been chronically underfunded throughout its history, and especially during and after the recession that began in 2009. During that time, funding for textbooks and other instructional materials faced drastic cuts, class sizes rose due to inadequate funding, and teacher and staff raises were virtually nonexistent. While the situation has improved in the past couple of years, RRPS still has to subsidize transportation costs from operational money intended to fund teaching and learning. The growing need for school mental and behavioral health services to support students and families is also a priority. Every year, our staff sees increasing numbers of students whose mental state presents challenges in the classroom and, at worst, a danger to themselves and others. The district seeks adequate and ongoing funding for services at school, as well family supports provided by other community agencies.
Summary of RRPS's legislative priorities for 2020:
- Ensure transportation funding is fair, equitable, and adequate and provides for a safe ride to and from school for all eligible students, competitive wages, fuel costs, and replacement buses. The lack of transportation funding limits the district’s educational flexibility in many areas, including being able to take advantage of options for school day and school year start and end times, etc.
- Ensure that textbooks and instructional materials, including digital textbooks and necessary devices and infrastructure, are adequately funded. After years of underfunding, districts must be able to catch up on providing updated texts and materials, and be able to replace consumables and damaged books and devices
- Provide adequate, ongoing funding for the provision of behavioral and mental health services and programs in public schools
- Provide funding and resources for career-technical opportunities for students
- Ensure school districts have sufficient funding to adequately maintain their buildings and property
- Ensure school districts can protect their computer systems and data from cyber threats through adequate resources for educational cyber services
- Reverse legislation that changed educator retirement plans in a way that discourages individuals from working for school districts (substitute teachers, security officers, etc.) and discourages retired educators from returning to the classroom.
- Adjust the legislation that changed the funding formula for the Fine Arts Education Act to ensure those programs are sufficiently funded.