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HOUSE AND SENATE REPUBLICANS STAND AGAINST MANDATORY 5-DAY SCHOOL WEEK, CITING MISGUIDED POLICIES AND NEGATIVE IMPACTS ON COMMUNITIES





Final 180 Day Memo - PED
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SANTA FE, NM – House and Senate Republicans today voiced their continuing

opposition to the Public Education Department’s (PED) recent rule change that will

effectively eliminate the four-day school week option for districts across the state. This

opposition was expressed in a letter to PED Cabinet Secretary Arsenio Romero that

was signed by every member of the House and Senate Republican Caucuses.


This new rule change, which PED has presented as a mere update to an existing but

unenforced 180-day mandate, has been met with strong criticism from Republican

lawmakers who represent those school districts that will be most negatively impacted by

this new mandate. The letter to the Cabinet Secretary outlined several key concerns,

including stating that PED’s characterization that this new rule change is an update is a

misrepresentation of the facts. “It is disingenuous to suggest that this rule is a simple

update," said Rep. Gail Armstrong (R-Magdalena). “The previous 180-day mandate has not been enforced since its inception, and the underlying law was repealed 12 years

ago. It is time for the rule to be repealed, not updated,” she stated.


Additionally, while PED claims the four-day school week is not being eliminated, the

reality is that newly set performance targets are so high that no district is likely to meet

the criteria for an exception to the 180-day mandate. This would force four-day districts

to operate for 45 weeks a year, a schedule that is not reasonable in rural New Mexico.


The financial implications of this rule change for four-day districts are also of significant

concern. House and Senate Republicans argued that increased costs for transportation,

food services, and personnel would place undue strain on already tight district budgets.

“PED advises districts that this won’t increase personnel costs, but that is out of touch

with the reality faced by school employees who will see their work year increase by 33

days in some instances," said State Senator Greg Nibert (R-Roswell). “Our educators

are rightfully expecting to be compensated for their additional time and expenses.”


The proposed mandate is expected to have a detrimental impact on the teacher

workforce, potentially leading to early retirements and the exodus of educators from

rural to urban districts, further exacerbating the inability of the State of New Mexico to

provide educational sufficiency as required by the Martinez Yazzie lawsuit. The change

could also disrupt communities that have built their schedules and lives around the four-

day model.


Lastly, House and Senate Republicans stressed the rule change fails to address the

larger issue of student performance statewide, as it impacts only a very small minority of

Students. “The vast majority of our students, who attend larger districts like

Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Santa Fe, Hobbs, Farmington, and Rio Rancho, will not be

affected by this change,” Rep. Armstrong said. She continued, “It is misguided to

believe this rule will lead to any significant improvement in statewide student

performance.”

House and Senate Republicans are calling for a renewed focus on policies that

genuinely promote student success without imposing unreasonable burdens on our

educators and school districts. They urged PED to consider the extensive implications

of this rule change and to work collaboratively with all stakeholders to find more

effective solutions.


A copy of the letter to PED Cabinet Secretary Romero is attached to this press release.


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