New Mexico Devises Strong Funding Formula: An Analysis

Last Updated: July 01, 2008

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A new school funding formula that was produced by a legislatively funded study committee and its consultants would increase overall state aid to schools by over 15% and, according to a new Rural School and Community Trust analysis, send the biggest increases 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.

The study arranges 88 school districts (all of New Mexico's districts, except Albuquerque) into five groups according to how big the percentage gain in funding they are expected to receive if the new formula becomes law (from those with "Most Gain" to those with "Least Gain").

Under the proposal, all but four districts gain funding.

In general, the higher the rate of poverty, child poverty, unemployment, and adults without a high school diploma in the study group, the greater the group's average per pupil gain in state aid.

There are some quirks however. The group of districts that enjoyed the least funding increase has a worse socio-economic profile than the group that had the next-least funding increase. It also has a worse profile on three of four measures of socio-economic stress than the group of districts whose gain was in the middle.

The formula was devised by the American Institutes of Research. Chances of its passages next legislative session are improved with new-found support from Governor Bill Richardson.