The Las Cruces Public Schools Board of Education on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve the district’s 2019-20 operating budget. The budget — which is just more than $394 million dollars — was developed through a transparent and collaborative approach based on recommendations from staff, students, more than 1,100 community members and the school board.

“We are pleased that the board voted to approve the proposed budget,” said Superintendent Greg Ewing. “Again this year, we worked closely with a number of stakeholders to assemble a budget which addresses the immediate needs of the district and puts the education of students first. This budget is indicative of transformative changes for the state’s education system. It allows us to more robustly address the needs of at-risk students while giving teachers and staff the much-needed raises they deserve.”

The approved budget includes $228,134,336 of operational funds, the majority of which funds employee salaries and benefits. The remainder is comprised of various state and federal funds, which are earmarked for specific purposes.

Budget goals for the coming year included decreasing class size, improving school safety and security, addressing the needs of at-risk students (including English Learners, special education, Native American and Hispanic students) as set forth in the Yazzie/Martinez v. New Mexico lawsuit, and maintaining an adequate cash reserve, Ewing said.

Las Cruces Public Schools Superintendent Greg Ewing and Chief Finance Officer Ed Ellison speak to members of the public on Wednesday, May 15, 2019 at a town hall meeting on the district’s proposed budget.

An overview of the proposed budget was presented to the public at a town hall meeting on Wednesday, May 15. In addition to budget specifics, the town hall meeting also included discussion of student-to-teacher ratios and minimum salary increases of six percent for all staff.

The approved 2019-20 budget provides for the expansion of International Welcome Centers to the district’s middle schools, maintaining truancy coaches, the expansion of social-emotional and behavioral support for students, and the addition of a translation/interpretation personnel to assist all schools.

The budget will now be submitted to the New Mexico Public Education Department for final approval.

The budget, as proposed and approved, is available for the public to view on the Finance Sunshine Portal on the district’s website at www.lcps.net, as is the Powerpoint presentation from last week’s town hall meeting. Video of the school board meeting be accessed by visiting LCPS.TV.

— Damien Willis, LCPS Director of Communications, 575-527-5811, dwillis@lcps.net