In response to an ultimatum given by the state's Public Education Department, Albuquerque Public Schools announced it will be reorganizing the structure of three local schools. Los Padillas, Whittier and Hawthorne elementary schools have all received five or six F grades for their performance from PED and have been targeted for “more rigorous interventions” (MRI) by the department. All 3 schools scored below 10 percent proficiency in math and 25 percent or less proficiency in reading. Last month, PED gave these three schools and Dulce Elementary in Dulce—the worst ranked schools in the state—a list of options going forward: provide novel learning techniques as a magnet school, significantly restructure, relaunch as a charter school or close permanently. APS officials responded in a letter to PED last month that they would be restructuring the three schools in their jurisdiction. The MRI schools were told to decide on their action plan by Jan. 9. Full plans must be submitted to PED by Feb. 12. The American Federation of Teachers New Mexico, a teachers' union, released a statement in December which spoke against PED's tactics, saying they are “blaming and shaming” students and teachers while ignoring systemic issues.
EPA to Prioritize San Mateo Creek Basin Cleanup
Regulators with the Environmental Protection Agency are looking to add a western New Mexico creek basin to a list of cleanup priorities. The San Mateo Creek Basin in McKinley and Cibola counties makes up around 321 square miles within the Rio San Jose drainage basin. Authorities with the EPA sent a letter to the New Mexico Environment Department in November, claiming to have found evidence that water from a number of legacy uranium mines was discharged into San Mateo Creek and has impacted private drinking water wells. Authorities believe it could potentially impact public water supplies and are seeking agreement with state and local government to add the basin to the federal Superfund National Priorities List, which denotes toxic cleanup sites across the nation that have the highest priority for the EPA.
Colón Enters Race for State Auditor
Last week, former Democratic Party Chairman, candidate for lieutenant governor and mayoral candidate Brian Colón announced he's now running for state auditor. He will be running against state Rep. Bill McCamley for the Democratic nomination. Colón has cited a background in finance and law as well as political experience in campaigning as credentials for the office. McCamley—who announced his candidacy in November—has said that he wants to continue the legacy left by former auditor Tim Keller, who resigned from the office after being appointed as Albuquerque's mayor. The office of state auditor is currently being held by another former mayoral candidate: Wayne Johnson, who was appointed by Gov. Susana Martinez to replace Keller. The primary election is June 5.