NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Lawmakers are trying to replace the state’s Public Education Department (PED) and its secretary with a state Board of Education and a superintendent. They point to all the PED secretaries coming and going over the past twenty years, and their political influence.

Lawmakers want voters to overhaul the system. “We need to have a superintendent and a system in place that allows for something longer than a governor’s term, frankly,” says Senator Steven Neville, (R-Aztec) sponsor of Senate Joint Resolution 1.

New Mexico had a Board of Education until twenty years ago when the voters got rid of it in favor of a Public Education Department under the governor. An analysis of the joint resolution mentions the state has already gone through six PED secretaries since 2003.

The constitutional amendment calls for a board with ten elected members from around the state, and five appointed by the governor. Those members would appoint the new state Superintendent of Education.

Lobbyists took to the Senate Rules Committee hearing Monday morning to weigh in on the idea. “It goes back to a process that we think will work better than our current process has been working. We are concerned about stability. The changes of superintendencies and therefore directions, rules, etc. are problematic for public schools,” one lobbyist said in support.

“Basically, the reason we moved away from an elected body was that it was perceived to just be too political,” one lobbyist in opposition said.

The joint resolution passed the committee on a six-to-one vote. If passed by both houses, this constitutional amendment would go on the ballot for voters to decide in 2026. The legislative analysis also points out it’s unclear whether the board and superintendent would oversee the PED, or if that department would be dissolved.