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New laws impacting New Mexico schools take effect July 1

Roundhouse New Mexico Capitol Seal
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Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0

A total of 23 New Mexico laws go into effect Friday, July 1. Most were passed in this year’s legislative session, though some were signed into law in 2020 and 2021. About 20% of the now-effective laws directly impact schools and those who work for and attend them.

Beginning Friday, the base pay of teachers and counselors at every licensure level will bump up by $10,000, meaning educators just starting out will now make $50,000 annually and the highest level three-A teachers and counselors will receive a minimum salary of $70,000 a year.

Faculty aren’t the only ones impacted by one of the laws related to school finances hitting the ground this week. Students and schools themselves will also see a boost in funding thanks to two other new laws.

For students, the Opportunity Scholarship Act will expand the existing scholarship to cover the full cost of college and university tuition and fees for most New Mexicans, including those returning to school after time away and part-time students.

As for schools, a bill that ups the state’s contribution of capital outlay funding to all districts by an estimated $17 million dollars over the 2022 fiscal year, according to a Public Education Department analysis, is set to kick in Friday, as well. The funds are used for capital improvements to school properties, like facility upgrades and maintenance.

Training requirements for certain school staff are also getting adjusted as two new laws are enacted, one of which is not so new — having passed over two years ago in the 2020 regular legislative session.

That bill required that law enforcement assigned to work as “school resource officers” are trained in the unique qualities of patrolling schools and policing students, including adolescent development, crisis intervention, and mentoring and classroom management techniques among other objectives.

Another bill passed in last year’s regular legislative session that kicks in July 1 boosts the requirements for those with a degree who hope to become teachers for students with disabilities. A candidate for a level-one alternative teaching license for special education must now complete a 15-week apprenticeship under an educator who has earned the highest possible licensure before being assigned their own classroom.

OTHER NOTABLE BILLS THAT GO INTO EFFECT JULY 1:

  • Senate Bill 35 enhances regulation of temporary guardianships and conservatorships, which are issued in an emergency for a person who is alleged to be incapacitated, with the intent of further protecting them from potential abuse. It requires a speedy hearing within 10 days for a judge’s approval, limits them to 30 days with the possibility of an extension, and increases oversight of the guardian or conservator — including prohibiting them from selling the property of the person they’re charged with protecting or moving them to another residence.
  • Senate Bill 38 transfers roles and responsibilities to the 2-year-old Early Childhood Education and Care Department from other state departments. The ECECD will now be the agency in charge of criminal background checks for childcare workers, rather than the Children, Youth, and Families Department. It will also take the responsibility to license and regulate child care facilities from CYFD. The law also adds ECECD to relevant state boards and establishes the department as the convener of the Family Infant Toddler Interagency Coordinating Council, rather than the Department of Health.

The New Mexico Legislative Council Service has prepared reports from the regular legislative sessions in 2022, 2021 and 2020 that show effective dates for each bill, including all those that take effect July 1, 2022.

The Your New Mexico Government project is a collaboration between KUNM Radio and New Mexico PBS. Support for public media provided by the Thornburg Foundation.

Nash Jones (they/them) is a general assignment reporter in the KUNM newsroom and the local host of NPR's All Things Considered (weekdays, 5-7 p.m.). You can reach them at nashjones@kunm.org or on Twitter @nashjonesradio.
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