New Mexico state senator hopes to extend school year


It’s probably the last thing New Mexico kids want to hear as they head into their holiday break, but a state lawmaker is already pushing the idea to extend the school year.

Parents who KRQE News 13 spoke with said it’s no secret New Mexico has an education problem, and they would like to see some changes.

“If that means longer school hours then you gotta do what you gotta do,” said parent Paul Griego.

That’s what one state lawmaker is hoping to do. Democratic Senator Joseph Cervantes of Las Cruces has introduced legislation in the past to extend the school year for elementary school students and sixth graders.

The proposals didn’t pass, but he recently tweeted out that he’s going to try again in the upcoming legislative session to add 20 days to the school year.

“This is a sound idea based on something that’s already working,” said Ellen Bernstein, President of the Albuquerque Teachers Federation.

Bernstein said the senator is basing the idea on a current state educational program called ‘K-3 Plus.’ It gives kindergartners through third graders 25 extra days of school in the summer.

In the senator’s tweet, he’s backing the ‘K-5 Plus’ program that would give extra days for kindergarten through fifth-grade students at struggling schools.

“There are a lot of things we need to do to make sure that we are meeting the needs of our students,” said Bernstein. “That’s the bottom line.”

For these two Albuquerque parents, they said an additional 20 days would benefit their kids in the long run.

“I think it would be great for the school year to go longer and better for the kids,” said Griego. “Giving them the best shot they can at life.”

“I think 20 days isn’t too much more to ask out of them and I know my kids love school,” said parent Luis Rimbert.

The K-3 Plus and K-5 Plus programs are only offered to struggling schools. Of course, how to pay for all that extra schooling is another matter.

Last January when Senator Cervantes pitched extending the school year, he wanted to pay for it by dipping into the state permanent funds. Neither idea passed a single committee. KRQE News 13 reached out to Senator Cervantes for comment but never heard back from him.

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