A New School Funding Formula Proposed in New Mexico

Last Updated: March 12, 2009

This article appeared in the February 2009 Rural Policy Matters.
A new funding formula that was produced by a legislatively funded study committee and its consultants would increase overall state aid by over 15%, according to a Rural School and Community Trust analysis reported in RPM (July 2008). That report, “An Analysis of the Impacts of the AIR Funding Formula Proposal on New Mexico School Districts,” has been released as a joint publication of the Rural Trust and the Ben Lujan Leadership and Public Policy Institute at the New Mexico Highlands University and is available at www.ruraledu.org/articles.php?id=1943.
The proposed formula would provide funding increases to all but four districts. The biggest increases would go to smaller districts serving the poorest, most rural, communities, those with large percentages of Hispanic and Native American students, and those with high proportions of English Language Learners. 
However, the legislation containing the new formula raises questions about the status of bilingual and multicultural education, long central tenants of public education in New  Mexico. Funds for English Language Learners would be included in the formula, but not earmarked for bilingual or multicultural education.
The proposal’s biggest obstacle is the state’s projected budget deficit. Finding new revenue is a must and the measure includes a proposal to increase the state’s gross receipts tax and to boost the income tax on the highest tax bracket. Business interests are stoutly opposed.
Read more from the February 2009 Rural Policy Matters.