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Scouts help families in need

~David Gardner

In November, the Pack 708 Cub Scouts joined with its sponsor, the Coronado Optimist Club, and with the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Posse to collect and distribute food for families who could use some help celebrating Thanksgiving Day. With the help of sizable donations from Garcia Infiniti and Albertson’s, about fifty families benefited. We finished the month with an outdoor cookout and games on November 29.

The Pack is in the midst of re-chartering for the coming year, with an increase in the number of boys, and adults being registered. As always, more families are welcome.

December events include participation in the annual Bernalillo Nighttime Christmas Parade on December 2, caroling at the Beehive house on December 20, and distribution of Pinewood Derby kits in preparation for our Derby to be held in January.

To keep the cost of membership low, there is a one-time annual membership fee of $40, and no dues are charged. Meetings are held every Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m., usually at the LDS Church in Bernalillo. For additional information, call Committee Chairman Amanda Griego at 507-1305, Chartered Organization Representative Snow Watson at 867-2047, or Cubmaster David Gardner at 867-4689.


Maximize dollars to the classroom

~Think New Mexico, thinknewmexico.org

New Mexico’s public schools present a riddle: why have our student outcomes remained stuck at the bottom of the nation even as our education spending has increased? Between 1993 and 2014 (the most recent year for which data is available), New Mexico rose from 44th in the nation to 36th in the nation for total annual spending per student, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. In 2017, the National Education Association, which represents teachers, ranked New Mexico second in the nation for spending on education per every $1,000 of personal income. Yet our graduation rates and math and reading scores continue to lag behind states that spend less per student.

One part of the reason is that only about 57.2 percent of New Mexico’s education budget is dedicated to instruction. While there is little to no correlation between total spending and student outcomes, there is a much stronger connection between the proportion of a state’s education budget dedicated to instruction and student performance in that state.

More evidence for this connection can be found in New Mexico’s highest performing school districts. Along with achieving high graduation rates and math and reading scores, these districts tend to spend a larger percentage of their budgets on classroom expenses, such as teachers, coaches, counselors, nurses, educational assistants, and school supplies, rather than on administrative expenses in the central district office.

Since about ninety percent of New Mexico’s operational education budget consists of state taxpayer dollars, the legislature and governor have the responsibility to ensure that the money is spent as effectively as possible.

Based on the examples of the state’s most successful districts, in 2017 Think New Mexico launched a new initiative recommending that the legislature and governor establish minimum percentages of each school district’s (and charter school’s) budget that must be spent in the classroom, rather than on administrative expenses. The minimum percentages would vary based on district size, as larger districts with better economies of scale should be able to spend a higher proportion of their budgets in the classroom. In addition, “classroom spending” would be broadly defined to include not only instruction, instructional support (e.g., librarians), and student support (e.g., counselors, nurses), but also principals, since the research suggests that principals can have a powerful positive impact on student achievement.

Think New Mexico has identified specific strategies for achieving administrative savings that add up to over $100 million, including reducing unnecessary reporting burdens, cutting specific administrative costs, eliminating spending on public relations and hired lobbyists, and right-sizing underperforming districts.

If New Mexico were able to shift just four percent of its $2.7 billion from administration to the classroom, it would mean an increase of over $100 million for proven education reforms, from K-3 Plus to prekindergarten to better pay for principals and teachers.

Think New Mexico will be advocating for these reforms during the 2018 legislative session. Sign up for our email alerts and follow our Facebook and Twitter pages to stay informed and get involved on this issue.
 
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