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New Mexico judge halts state mandate for school districts to adopt calendars with more school days

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New Mexico judge halts state mandate for school districts to adopt calendars with more school days


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A new mandate that requires school districts across New Mexico to adopt calendars that consist of at least 180 days was put on hold by a judge on Monday while he considers the change’s legality.

Dozens of school districts and superintendents have been challenging the state Public Education Department over the change. Teacher unions and Republican lawmakers also have raised concerns about the rule.

In granting the school districts’ request for a preliminary injunction, Judge Dustin Hunter said the rule undermines the Legislature’s intent when it adopted legislation in 2023 that called for extending the number of hours children spend in the classroom and the time teachers have for professional development.

“If the Legislature had intended to expand the number of days with all the accompanying costs — such as transportation and food and specialty providers such as special education and everything else — it necessarily would have provided the funding or given clear guidance as to why it was unable to,” Hunter said.

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The plaintiffs had argued that the requirement would result in budget shortfalls, particularly for districts that have operated on four-day weeks for decades.

“There are 89 different stories in 89 different districts and 89 different ways of getting good education to kids,” testified Stan Rounds, executive director of the New Mexico Coalition of Education Leaders. “They are very different. One size does not fit all.”

State officials contend the change will ultimately improve educational outcomes.

Holly Agajanian, the chief general counsel for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, argued that the school districts would not be harmed if the state is allowed to move forward with implementing the mandate pending a ruling on the merits of the case.

She said the districts could submit budgets with two alternative calendars — one complying with the 180-day rule and one assuming the school does not need to meet the mandate if the districts win their case.

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Agajanian told the court that although there have been substantial comments about the rule, the court “should not view it as the opinion of the public, especially when balancing harms.”

Attorneys for the school districts said 98% of the thousands of public comments were against the rule.

Hunter acknowledged that the state has created a Catch-22 in that it is requiring districts to submit budgets and schedules and apply for waivers even though they won’t have the student performance data needed to determine if they are eligible for an exemption.

The courtroom in Roswell was packed Monday, and dozens of school officials, lawmakers and district attorneys tuned into the livestream.

Consideration of the 180-day rule began last year, spurring much opposition. It wasn’t until this year’s legislative session wrapped up that the Public Education Department announced it would be implementing the rule that would take effect July 1.

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Public Education Secretary Arsenio Romero told reporters in March that the change was just one of many things his agency was implementing as it works to pull New Mexico up from the bottom of national education rankings. He pointed to structured literacy programs in kindergarten and earlier grades, technical education and internship opportunities for older students and summer programs that can help keep students on track.

Romero had said the agency listened to those who spoke out during a public comment period and that flexibility was built in to allow for four-day weeks — as long as districts could show increases in academic performance.

As for the legislation passed in 2023, New Mexico increased the number of hours students needed to be in school from roughly 1,000 hours to 1,140 hours. The change meant several districts around the state had to lengthen the school day or add more days to meet the requirement. The legislation also allowed space for professional development for teachers within a normal school day.

In the community of Logan, Superintendent Dennis Roch testified that the new rule will result in “astronomical” costs for the tiny district to add 33 days to its calendar to come into compliance. He said the additional cost for teacher salaries, not including any support staff, would total around $388,000 — which exceeds what the district pays to heat, cool and power its buildings.

“It’s just unworkable,” he said of absorbing the costs.

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Blue 2 Wildfire Alert for Sun Valley and Sierra Vista — Ruidoso-NM.gov | Municipal Website of the Village of Ruidoso, NM

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Blue 2 Wildfire Alert for Sun Valley and Sierra Vista — Ruidoso-NM.gov | Municipal Website of the Village of Ruidoso, NM


Immediate Action Required:

  • Voluntary Evacuation: Residents and visitors in Sun Valley and Sierra Vista are strongly advised to evacuate immediately. The recommended evacuation destination is the shelter at Lincoln County Fairgrounds in Capitan. Alternatively, you may stay with family or friends outside the affected area.

  • Preparedness: If you decide to remain in your home, be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice. Have your emergency supplies ready, and keep a close eye on the situation.

Safety Measures

  • Shelter Information: The Capitan Fairgrounds has been designated as the official shelter for evacuees. The facility is equipped to provide temporary housing and support during this critical time.

  • Communication: Stay informed by tuning into 1490 AM radio for continuous updates on the wildfire’s progress and any additional evacuation orders.

SHELTER LOCATIONS AND RESOURCES:

What You Can Do

  1. Prepare Your Evacuation Kit: Include essential items such as medications, important documents, food, water, clothing, and personal hygiene products.

  2. Inform Neighbors: Make sure your neighbors, especially those needing assistance, know the situation and the evacuation advisory.

  3. Follow Official Instructions: Adhere to any directives from emergency personnel and local authorities to ensure your safety and the safety of others.

Stay Informed

For the latest information on the wildfire and evacuation updates, continue to monitor local news and official channels:

LINKS:

Your safety is our top priority. Please take this advisory seriously and act promptly to ensure your well-being. Thank you for your cooperation during this challenging time.

Stay safe, Ruidoso.

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Blue 2 Fire Morning Update – May 25, 2024 — Ruidoso-NM.gov | Municipal Website of the Village of Ruidoso, NM

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Blue 2 Fire Morning Update – May 25, 2024 — Ruidoso-NM.gov | Municipal Website of the Village of Ruidoso, NM


High Wind Warning:
A High Wind Warning remains in effect from 11 AM MST to 6 PM MST today, Saturday, May 25th. Southwest winds of 35 to 45 mph are expected, with gusts up to 60 mph. These high winds are likely to produce smoke in and around the Village of Ruidoso.

Responding Efforts:
Currently, there are 177 crewmembers working both by air and ground to combat the Blue 2 Fire. Additional crews are expected to arrive throughout today and tomorrow.

Evacuation Orders:

GO NOW (LEVEL 3 – Evacuations are necessary to preserve life safety):

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  • NEW GO NOW: Villa Madonna Subdivision

  • Bonito Lake Rd

  • Forest Service Rd 108

  • Forest Service Rd 107

  • Forest Service Rd 127A (Upper Eagle Creek off of Ski Run Rd and surrounding area along 532 Ski Run Rd)

SET (LEVEL 2 – Within 5 miles of the village limits):

  • Sierra Vista Subdivision

  • Sun Valley Subdivision

READY (LEVEL 1 – Within 10 miles of the village limits):

Please remain vigilant and prepared to evacuate if you are in the affected areas.

Stay tuned for further updates and follow the instructions of local authorities to ensure your safety.



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Blue 2 Fire Evening Update – May 24, 2024 — Ruidoso-NM.gov | Municipal Website of the Village of Ruidoso, NM

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Blue 2 Fire Evening Update – May 24, 2024 — Ruidoso-NM.gov | Municipal Website of the Village of Ruidoso, NM


As of this evening, the Blue 2 Fire has grown to an estimated 3,300 acres and remains 0% contained. A total of 88 personnel are currently assigned to the fire, with additional resources en route to assist in the ongoing efforts. Evacuations remain unchanged from previous announcements.

Today’s Operations

Today’s mission focused heavily on both air and ground operations. Firefighting teams utilized aircraft and ground crews to tackle the blaze, working tirelessly to protect our community and its natural surroundings. The cooperation and dedication of these teams are critical as the fire continues to spread.

Incident Management Transition

The Southwest Complex Incident Team is currently en route and is expected to take over management of the fire on Sunday. This transition will bring additional expertise and resources to the ongoing efforts to combat the fire and protect our community.

Stay Informed

For the latest updates and detailed information, please follow the link to read the full update: Blue 2 Fire Full Update.

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Community Support

We thank the community for their continued support and cooperation during this challenging time. It is essential to stay informed and adhere to any evacuation orders or safety recommendations provided by officials.

Stay safe, Ruidoso.

For continuous updates, please check the official channels and stay connected through the Watch Duty app and local news outlets.



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