RPPS needs more money for improved job training programs

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A new vocational technical education building is a big step toward growing vocational programs for public schools in Rio Rancho, but despite the district’s dedication and spending $12.7 million on the building and land on Zenith Short, the state has not been of much help. .

Once standard in high schools, CTE is becoming the wave of the future.

Now, and more so with the opening of the CTE building in the fall of 2023, new high school graduates can earn a living in trades such as carpentry, architecture and construction, as well as many options in life sciences. health.

RRPS plans to partner with area builders, medical providers and other key employers to fill vacancies with students who went in these directions in high school and college – exemplified in recent years by the RRPS dual credit partnership with Central New Mexico Community College.

RRPS is looking for a way to afford not only all the necessary equipment, but also qualified teachers.

Craig Brandt

As state senator Craig Brandt, R-Rio Rancho, a former school board member, sees it, these instructors will have to be paid based on what they could earn outside the district.

When the council decided to buy a building exclusively for the CTE, RPPS Superintendent Sue Cleveland said it was “disturbing” that labor shortages were getting worse.

At the same time, she said, skilled tradespeople are getting older, with their current median age of 43 being about 10% higher than the general population. Additionally, 27% of them are within 10 years of the Social Security retirement age of 62.

There are 17 CTE “groups” in high schools in Rio Rancho, serving about 2,400 students, and four middle school programs, with more than 900 students.

The state does not provide assistance to districts that add CTE to their program.

In mid-November, the school board approved a list of its 11 priorities for the 2022 state legislative session. Among them were “support initiatives that provide funding, ideally a dedicated revenue stream, and a support for vocational technical training”.

Sue Cleveland

Amid the state’s unprecedented fiscal outlook, the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration released the executive budget recommendation for Governor Michelle’s administration earlier this month. Lujan Grisham. It showed $8.4 billion in recurring spending, a 13.4% increase from last fiscal year.

The recommendation will keep reserves at 36.4%, among the highest in state history, while increasing investment in areas such as education, public safety and economic development.

The budget recommendation includes the following education-related expenditures – but nothing for ETC:

  • Nearly $277 million to provide 7% raises to educators in New Mexico and increase base educator pay levels, putting New Mexico teacher salaries above those in neighboring states;
  • $195.1 million to expand pre-K capacity, increase early childhood educator salaries, and launch new programs that support New Mexico’s youngest learners;
  • $85.5 million to make tuition-free college accessible to more New Mexicans than ever before through the Opportunity Scholarship;
  • $11.4 million for literacy programs that provide specialized reading instruction and support to K-12 students;
  • $10.5 million for programs that help teachers pay for their college education and repay their loans;
  • $10 million for the state’s dual credit program, in which high school students earn college and high school credits at the same time;
  • $50 million to create a Media Academy that provides training, internships and other resources for students looking to enter the state’s film and media industry.

Brandt isn’t optimistic about the Legislature doling out dollars to the CTE this year: “I know it’s something that’s been talked about, but I don’t know if the Legislature is ready to take that leap,” he said, knowing the state funding formula. will need to be adjusted.

“(They) don’t know what factor to put in it,” Brandt said. “I think the finance committee is going to want a clear understanding of the funding formula, and if so, how much for CTE?”

Maybe in the 2023 legislature?

Brandt thinks addressing the CTE in the 2023 legislative session would give the education committee or the legislative finance committee more time to consider the funding formula. He would like CTE to receive some money this year, however.

“Jobs are vital. We have to create pathways for people – in Grade 10 you know if you want to go to college,” he said.

“The question is, should a multiplier be added for CTE?” said Brandt. “I still don’t think the answers are there to change the funding formula. … We’ve been talking about these CTE issues for years, and yet we’re still talking about them.

Sonny Liu, the public schools analyst who works with the Legislative Finance Committee, was not optimistic that RRPS would receive dollars from the CTE this year.

“The funding formula generates over approximately $9,000 per student; in that formula is a factor for high school students, specifically 1.25 now (or $9,000 x 1.25),” he said. “The extra 0.25 was kind of buried in the formula, but I think there’s a renewed interest in the state for students who aren’t going down a college path.”

Liu noted that “all of this federal relief fund — about $1.5 billion that went to schools — can also be used for CTE.” But he expected no legislative help otherwise.

“There have been credits for the CTE; the legislature has been interested in looking at other high-performing countries and states (as far as CTE is concerned), but there is probably no room for big reform in the formula,” Liu added. “It’s a short session and getting the budget passed (is a higher priority).”

He expressed hope that an interim committee could develop recommendations for the 60-day session in 2023, but “done statewide, that would be a very big proposition.”

Another way to help fund CTE is through the federal Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act. What has Perkins meant to RRPS lately?

“We are receiving a small amount of federal money through the Perkins Grant, or the Career and Technical Education Building for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), which supports the expansion of CTE “said Beth Pendergrass, Director of Communications, Strategy and Engagement at RPNS. . “This year, we received $128,267. When we apply for Perkins, we also apply for the NMPED Next Gen grant. We received $29,987 from this grant.


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