New Mexico changes education funding formulas

New Mexico is making changes to how it funds education. The state has announced changes to both its funding formula for colleges and universities as well as how it will allocate funds to K-12 education based on a new grading system. The initiatives are part of a broader state goal to improve education and increase the competitiveness of its local workforce.

Governor Susana Martinez met with regents, governing board members and post-secondary institution presidents yesterday, to unveil the new funding formula for higher education. Currently, some higher education funding allocations are made based on the size of the institution. Other funding is allocated based on the number of courses and degree programs started. The Governor plans to change that and tie more funding to student performance.

Going forward funding will be allocated past on the number of courses and degree programs completed. Institutions will also receive funds for graduating students in high-demand fields such as science, technology, engineering, health and mathematics.

“For the first time in the history of New Mexico, the younger generation is less educated than the generations before,” said Higher Education Secretary Jose Garcia. This is he result of funding allocations that incentivized higher education to build new buildings to gain more money instead of focusing on educational programs. Higher education institutions in the state have agreed to stop all new building for two years while they examine the formula changes.

The Governor will also be allocating $5.5 million to K-12 education according to a new A-F performance grading system for schools. Each school will be graded on the new system and funding awards will to to the highest performing schools. Schools will get their first round of grades this week.

Schools with the lowest grades D’s or F’s will also receive funding on an improvement oriented basis. Up to $3.4 million of the $5.5 million allocation has already been set aside for those schools. The money will go to attracting better teachers and paying for facilities improvements. High performing schools may win awards of up to $50,000 to support their efforts.

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Peter Groen

Related in a way, here in West Virginia our largest university is now the American Public University System – visit http://www.apus.edu They are a for profit, online university that is fully accredited that now has over 100,000 registered students. That’s more than West Virginia University (WVU), the largest state run system. This has triggered the question – why is the state spending hundreds of millions of dollars to support the state’s university system when a for profit university offers a similar education at less cost – no cost to taxpayers. It makes a profit. It costs less for students. Students can attend online and hold down a job. The topper – APUS uses the free & open source Sakai learning management software system. They are innovative and are using open solutions to offer a superior product at a lower cost in a way suited to the needs of students in the 21st century. Potential huge saving to state to consider phasing out the old state university systems over time so the new Open Education industry can grow and prosper.