US Department of Education sides with New Mexico school districts


NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Monday night, the superintendent of Zuni schools is praising a recent federal decision which means the state owes his school district and other millions. Money he says is desperately needed.

“Our district, for example, had we had this money before it happened we could have said easily, we’re going to give every child a Macbook and hotspot,” said Daniel Benavidez, superintendent of Zuni Public School district.

For years Zuni and three other school districts have been challenging the state’s formula for what is called ‘Impact Aid.’ They argued the state was unfairly taking 75% of the federal money given to school districts that lose property tax revenue because of nearby military bases or pueblos. The U.S. Department of Education recently sided with the schools. State Senator George Munoz estimates the state now owes roughly $45 million to Impact Aid schools around the state. He says even as the s state faces financial trouble, students in his district deserve that money.

“We are going to do the right thing. That money was set aside for those children and the state took credit for it,” said Munoz. The state Public Education Department says they’re reviewing the decision and what they’ll do next.

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