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Tuesday , October 16 2018
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Home | Tag Archives: nm schools

Tag Archives: nm schools

Should NM Lawsuit Windfall be Spent on Cleaner School Buses?

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A New Mexico group plans to advocate for cleaner school buses in meetings this week to discuss how the state’s money from the Volkswagen settlement should be spent.

New Mexico’s share of the federal settlement is $18 million after Volkswagen was caught cheating on federal emission laws.

Molly Sanders, program director of the Conservation Voters New Mexico Education Fund, says at the meeting Monday night in Albuquerque, her group will share that it wants to see the money spent transitioning diesel school buses to electric.

She says children with asthma deserve cleaner air, and electric school buses would help.

“When parents are sending their children to school on, you know, a school bus that’s polluting the air with diesel emissions and children’s lungs are still developing when they’re in school, it can contribute to an increase and uptick in asthma rates,” Sanders states.

The New Mexico Environment Department is required to spend the Volkswagen settlement money to support a reduction in nitrogen oxide levels.

The public meetings are Monday night in Albuquerque, in Farmington on Wednesday and in Gallup on Thursday. Times and locations are online

More than half of New Mexico’s 300,000 students ride buses every day in 89 school districts. According to some estimates, more than 1 in 11 New Mexico children suffers from asthma.

Victor Nevarez, youth organizer for the group Juntos: Our Air, Our Water, says for one of his siblings, a cleaner bus would be a big improvement.

“For my sister, she has asthma and she’s been dealing with it for, like, four years now,” he relates. “She goes to school on a diesel bus everyday – she’s had to miss several school days because she goes to the emergency room, and she wouldn’t have to miss as many school days.”

Experts estimate there are 250,000 older school buses still in operation across the U-S, with exhaust systems spewing pollutants that can adversely affect children’s health.

Author: Roz Brown, Public News Service (NM)

NM Lawmakers Challenge Governor’s Veto of ‘Teachers Are Humans Too’

SANTA FE, N.M. – Teachers in New Mexico are in an uproar that Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed a bill that would stop using the number of sick days they take as part of their performance evaluations. And now, state lawmakers are coming to their aid. House Bill 241 – nicknamed “Teachers Are Humans Too” – passed both the Senate and House, but wasn’t signed into law by the governor.

Sen. Craig Brandt is leading the charge to get the two-thirds majority needed from each chamber to overturn her decision. He calls the veto “fundamentally unfair.”

“We are currently punishing our teachers for being sick, which forces them to go to school sick and make their children sick,” he said. “I don’t think that’s healthy, for them or their students.”

Brandt adds that New Mexico is ranked forty-ninth nationally in terms of educational quality, which hasn’t changed since the governor took office in 2011. The state struggles with budget problems in addition to academic performance, which Martinez has been working to address.

Educators currently get 10 sick days each school year, and are disciplined with deductions from a point system that tracks their attendance. In a prepared statement about the veto, Gov. Martinez said she’s proud of the $3.6 billion saved last year from teachers taking less sick time, which includes money the state has to pay substitute teachers when others call in sick.

But Senator Brandt doesn’t like the trade-off.

“Does it save some money?” he asked. “Maybe, in the short term. But at what cost to the health, the morale and the well-being of our teachers?”

Brandt says he has the votes he needs to override the veto in the Senate and is working quickly to get them in House. If he gets the required two-thirds majority in both chambers, he says it would be the first override of a veto in the five years he’s been a state senator.

Author: Brett McPherson, Public News Service

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