Three leaders from charter schools in New Mexico told the commission they may have to cut programs and even staff positions to afford the salary increases.
“I’m very excited that legislators and the PED recognized that we needed to have a significant increase in pay and I do not want to be negating that incredible effort to get our salaries up,” said Eric Ahner, executive director of the J . Paul Taylor Academy. “But we look at what it means in operation and it means we’re going to scale back what we’re doing.”
“The budget is just not going to be enough,” said Kimberly Ritterhouse, school administrator at Red River Valley Charter School. “I’ve already looked ahead. I’m going to have to cut our reading interventionist because I need classroom teachers. “
Some of the public education commissioners also blasted state lawmakers for what they called an unfunded mandate, or teacher raises without the necessary state funding.
“We should not be in this situation, especially with the state in general having more revenue,” said the commission’s chair, Rebekka Burt. “We’re not in a budget deficit. We’re not cutting. So why are our schools cutting? It just does not make sense. “
Commissioner Steven Carrillo also had a strongly worded response.
“I think it’s abhorrent that they planned all of this and did not plan to pay for it,” said Carrillo. “I think it just makes me crazy. They always do that and I’m thinking of an editorial that I’d love to write just saying like, what, are ya’ll stupid? You say you’re going to do all of this for our teachers and you go home thinking about how great you are and then you do not write the check? No , that’s not how the world works. “
KOB 4 reached out to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office for a response to their concerns, since the governor spearheaded the teacher raises.
“The state is delivering record funds to school districts for the purpose of better educator compensation – the budget enacted last month included $ 77 million for increased teacher salary minimums and over $ 190 million for 7 percent raises and a minimum $ 15 / hour wage for all public education staff, ”Nora Meyers Sackett, a spokesperson for the governor, said in an email. “That is funding that is allocated directly to school districts for educator compensation – of course, the districts have spending discretion in how they use the funding allocated to them and how they negotiate their contracts, but the state has delivered the appropriate funding for the purpose or better educator compensation, something all New Mexicans agree is critically important. ”