New Mexico Districts Contemplating Lawsuit

Last Updated: October 30, 2009

This article appeared in the October 2009 Rural Policy Matters.
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School districts across New Mexico are considering a lawsuit that could force a change to the state's public school funding formula, resulting in more money for education.
The New Mexico Coalition of School Administrators (NMCSA) has been holding a series of informational meetings with interested districts. NMCSA would not fund or act as a party to the potential lawsuit, but is compiling information. No official statements about the lawsuit have been released but those working with districts estimate approximately one-third of districts are planning to participate.
A state-funded 2006 study found New Mexico school districts on average are underfunded by about 14.5%. The state House of Representatives passed a bill in 2008 that would remedy the situation by revising the public school funding formula, but the bill was never heard by the Senate.(See February 2009 RPM for an analysis of the funding reforms.)
In a special session of the state legislature that has just gotten underway, threats of major education cuts mobilized teachers and advocacy groups to demonstrate at the capital. Governor Bill Richardson has said that education will be spared, but legislators say that protecting education is impossible because the revenue deficit that has been estimated to be as much as $650 million.
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