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Bill that would mandate school board training is headed to the House floor for a final vote

School board members around New Mexico take on a lot of tasks, including setting budgets, establishing school policies, and hiring superintendents. But there’s no standardized training for them. A bill headed for a final floor vote in the Legislature aims to change that.

Senate Bill 137 would require school board members to attend 10 hours of training during their first year serving on the board, followed by 5 hours of additional training annually for the rest of their term.

Trainings would cover areas such finance and budgeting, creating strategy for student achievement, and practices for supporting their local superintendent. Board members are supposed attend annual training now, but according to a bill analysis PED doesn’t track compliance with that rule.

D’Val Westphal with the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce spoke in support of the bill. She said it will ensure board members get essential training.

"SB 137 is just smart and long overdue legislation. Too often well-intentioned individuals run for school board positions and they find they are underprepared to deal with everything that has been put on their plate and they are overwhelmed. That’s frustrating for the board members and it short-changes our students, and our parents, and our taxpayers" said Westphal.

She said it will also foster more transparency since it mandates webcasting and archiving of meetings. Only about half the school boards in the state currently offer webcasts.

The bill also requires all school board candidates to report campaign contributions and spending in excess of $1,000. According to Think New Mexico, which has been pushing for the bill, the state is one of only six that does not require all school board candidates to disclose their campaign contributions.

SB 137 passed the Senate and the House Education Committee and is now headed to the House floor for a final vote.

This coverage is made possible by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and KUNM listeners.

Taylor is a reporter with our Poverty and Public Health project. She is a lover of books and a proud dog mom. She's been published in Albuquerque The Magazine several times and enjoys writing about politics and travel.
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