Santa Fe New Mexican-NM ordered to reimburse school districts in IA

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DATE: Tuesday, April 13, 2021  
Contact: Daniel Marzec  
Cell: 505.398.0810

Gallup-McKinley County Schools Recognize Education Game-Changer 
Helping reverse decades of inequity, HB 6 uplifts NM’s tribal schools and struggling districts  

Santa Fe, N.M. – Yesterday, students and members of the Gallup McKinley Consolidated School Board met to recognize state leaders like Representative Patty Lundstrom (D-Gallup), for delivering potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in federal resources for Gallup-McKinley County-area schools.  

House Bill 6, will help correct decades of imbalance in the distribution of federal education funding called “Impact Aid” by sending the funds to historically underserved schools in the state, including those with largely Native American populations.   

Sponsored by Rep. Patty Lundstrom (D-Gallup), Speaker of the House Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe), Rep. Harry Garcia (D-Grants), and Rep. D. Wonda Johnson (D-Church Rock), House Bill 6 levels the playing field by removing the 75% credit, as well as the local half-million-dollar property tax levy and federal forest reserve fund revenue, from the public education funding formula. Instead, an equivalent amount of funding will go to tribal and other historically underserved school districts in New Mexico which could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars over the next few years. 

“We have been waiting for this a long time,” said Charles Long, President of the Gallup-McKinley County Schools Board of Education. “These resources are a game-changer for our students. Our children in the school district want to thank State Representative Lundstrom, Speaker Egolf, and all those who fought for years to ensure our students get access to the quality education and opportunities they deserve.”  

“It feels good to get something real accomplished for kids in our area,” said Chris Mortensen, Vice-President of the Gallup-McKinley County Schools Board of Education. “The passage of this bill into law means generational change for our students. We couldn’t be prouder of the work it took by so many to make the dream of fairness of our kids a reality.” 

“Our Gallup-McKinley County schools alone would have received $800 million in federal funding if Impact Aid had gone to those it was intended for over the last five decades,” said Priscilla Manuelito, member of the Gallup McKinley County Schools Board of Education. “The years-long fight it took to reverse decades of misguided policy shows our children that sometimes you have to stand up and fight, even if you fight alone because you will realize you’re not alone. I want to thank Representative Lundstrom and Speaker Egolf for being our champions in Santa Fe to get this legislation passed and signed.”   

“Since the 1970s, New Mexico has been improperly directing funds intended for our Native students and underserved schools. The passage of HB 6 finally corrects this inequity after years of hard work,” said Rep. Lundstrom. “This legislation will change lives and is the result of a great collaboration amongst so many within the Gallup-McKinley County Schools district and throughout the state.”   

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have this kind of achievement which provides an equitable future for students in New Mexico,” said Speaker Egolf. “For nearly fifty years, antiquated policy has prevented school districts with predominantly Native American students from receiving the federal funding they deserve. With the new policy, tens of thousands of children in New Mexico will finally benefit from the world-class education and have a real chance at the bright future they deserve. This effort has taken many years to achieve, and it was a true honor to have all those involved recognized today.” 

Currently, Impact Aid funds are not fully distributed to their intended destinations of schools primarily serving Native American and other historically marginalized students. Rather, 75% of this funding goes into the State Equalization Guarantee (SEG), which administers public education dollars to each school district across the state.   

Having been signed by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, House Bill 6 takes effect July 1, 2021. 

Brian Egolf

From Brian Egolf-

“All children in New Mexico deserve a quality education and a real chance at a bright future. Once I learned of the unfair policy that diverted millions of federal dollars away from our Native and underserved schools for decades, correcting this inequity became a passion and a mission of mine. Thanks to years of tireless work by many advocates and my dedicated colleagues in the legislature, thousands of children in New Mexico now have access to the resources and quality education they deserve.”