SANTA FE — District superintendents and charter school leaders were notified by Public Education Department Secretary Ryan Stewart, late Tuesday night that the department, “made the difficult decision to cancel any K-5 Plus and Extended Learning Time Programs that were set to take place this summer”.
This notice halts two impactful programs that have turned out massive support from legislators and communities alike. Both programs were on track to have record-breaking participation this summer.
K-5 Plus is an optional program that extends the school year by 25 additional days targeted for elementary schools serving grades kindergarten through fifth grade. The Extended Learning Time program is a newer program that provides students with ten additional days of instruction, free after school programming and requires 80 hours of professional development for participating staff.
“Summer learning remains a critical tool to mitigate learning loss from the summer slide and is more important than ever to mitigate the impacts of school closure caused by COVID-19,” said Amanda Aragon, executive director of the education advocacy non profit NewMexicoKidsCAN.
New Mexico’s FY21 budget passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Lujan Grisham included $191 million for K-5 Plus and Extended Learning Time ($119 million for K-5 plus and $71 million for Extended Learning Time).
“We remain hopeful that the Public Education Department and the legislature will work together to repurpose funding so that it can be used by districts to implement alternative summer learning programming, even if it can only be done virtually. It is critical our students have access to quality summer learning opportunities,” Aragon said.
New Mexico students continue to lag their peers across the country academically and risk being impacted even more dramatically due to New Mexico’s high rates of poverty and lack of access to technology.
“Summer learning alone cannot eliminate the loss of learning from school closure, but it can and should be used to mitigate learning loss, especially for New Mexico’s most vulnerable students. We need immediate leadership to make summer learning available for the students and families who need it. The next school year is beginning in 84 days and there’s no clear path forward for summer programming. We are out of time to wait,” Aragon said.