Ocotber 8, 2019
New Mexico – New Mexico’s elected school board officials have control of nearly half of New Mexico’s $7 billion budget. According to the New Mexico Public Education Department, $3.25 billion is allocated to the state’s kindergarten through 12th grade education system, which is meant to serve the next generation of New Mexicans. This significant investment places the Land of Enchantment 38th in the nation for per pupil spending at $9,881. New Mexico’s return on this spending is bleak, given that outcomes show we are 50th in both graduation rates and 4th grade reading, in addition to being 45th in teacher pay.
Through the production of a legislative scorecard, Viante captures how our state lawmakers are working together to address these serious education challenges. Now, the nonprofit is taking this focus one step further to see how the people who are tasked with implementing the legislature’s directives are performing. New Mexico’s 447 school board members in the state’s 89 school districts are responsible for approving their district’s budget and how money is spent. Unfortunately, there is little public accountability for these elected officials due to a lack of transparency.
This 2019 election cycle, Viante New Mexico is providing a candidate questionnaire to assist voters in making informed decisions about who is elected. Viante’s 12 question survey aims to place school board candidates on the record, so voters understand each person’s position on significant issues, their professional backgrounds, and how they will support data-driven, common ground solutions for their students.
Viante started with six school districts for this inaugural questionnaire based on the number of students served and their varying geographic locations. The school district candidates that were surveyed were: Albuquerque, Carlsbad, Central Consolidated, Deming, Raton, and Las Cruces.
There was a 51% response rate from the 43 candidates. Las Cruces school board candidates did the best with 100% participation rate. Each candidate had two and a half weeks to submit their answers in 150 words or less. Candidates were contacted multiple times via email, phone, and direct mail.
“With the passage of the Local Elections Act, more New Mexicans will see new people and issues on their ballot this election season,” said Viante Executive Director, Rhiannon Samuel. “Viante’s goal with this survey is to give voters access to additional nonpartisan information on who has control of their taxpayer dollars and how they intend to use that money to move New Mexico from the bottom of many national lists to the top.”
Responses to the questionnaires can be found at https://viantenm.org/nm-school-board-survey/.
For more information on voting in the 2019 election cycle please visit https://viantenm.org.