Key Legislative Committees continue to discuss proposals to address the teacher shortage in New mexico.
Jason Espinoza reports from the Roundhouse.
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A proposal backed by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham to drastically increase teacher pay gained quick approval in the New Mexico State Senate Education Committee.
The proposed salary hikes would make the minimum starting teacher salary in New Mexico $50,000 for level 1 teachers, $60,000 for level 2 teachers and $70,000 for level 3 teachers. According to advocates, these increases would mean New Mexico would have the highest compensation for teachers in the Southwest region.
Bill sponsor, President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart who herself is a former educator for Albuquerque Public Schools discussed how critical this bill is and noted the state is in crisis with New Mexico having over 1,000 teacher vacancies whose positions school districts are desperately trying to fill.
Some members of the committee supported pay increases for educators but expressed criticism in the outcomes of the proposed $166 million investment. Republican Senator, Craig Brandt, said New Mexico boosted teacher salaries just two years ago. He questioned whether New Mexico has seen less teacher shortages or better student outcomes since the last pay increase.
Bill sponsor, Senator Stewart stressed that the global pandemic has complicated the education landscape.
Despite the concerns, the bill was approved by the committee with a unanimous vote and now will be considered by the Senate Finance Committee.
For the New Mexico News Network, I’m Jason Espinoza