ALBUQUERQUE, N.M (KRQE) – A New Mexico state senator is calling for a better method of tracking how schools are spending a surge in education funding from the state.
The proposed Senate Bill 96 would create a new, public, online database for school budgets, something that could eventually show how each school in the state is spending its allocated funding.
“This legislation will sort of peel back the curtain on public education spending in New Mexico,” said Senator Jacob Candelaria, a Democrat representing the westside of Albuquerque who is proposing the legislation.
The proposal comes after state lawmakers authorized a $446 million dollar spending increase in K-12 public education during the 2019 Legislative Session under the direction of Democrat Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.
Calling the funding surge a “moonshot,” the governor is also asking for lawmakers to increase K-12 spending by another $200 million dollars in the 2020 Legislative Session.
“I’m very concerned that yet again, going into this session, we are measuring the education conversation simply on how much money we can spend,” said Candelaria.
Candelaria says he agrees that investment in teachers and kids are important, however, he says he’s concerned about where the “moonshot” funds are being spent, and if the spending is actually effective.
“Are the children in our community receiving the resources that state law says they should be guaranteed?” said Candelaria. “It shouldn’t be so complicated to track where the money goes.”
Candelaria says he’s found it difficult to find extensive information about individual schools’ budgets since the “moonshot” funding was authorized. He says he has questions after looking at whole budget numbers for some APS high schools.
“I found that in many cases, schools with higher risk populations actually saw less of a budget increase, and to me as a legislator and a taxpayer, that makes absolutely no sense,” Candelaria said.
Candelaria says he wants to see publicly posted budgets for each New Mexico school as part of the proposed database outlined in Senate Bill 96.
“It’s incumbent upon the districts to demonstrate to us how that money was spent,” said Sen. Candelaria. “I’m hopeful that once for all, once we lay all the information on the table, and all parties have access to the same information, that parents can start calling out and demanding the type of reform that so many people know is needed, especially in Albuquerque Public Schools.”
KRQE News 13 did not hear back from Governor Lujan Grisham’s office on Sunday when asked about her administration’s take on the bill.