Carlsbad Current-Argus reports that the WIPP facility is filled to nearly half its capacity with nuclear waste, according to the current calculation method. But officials with the Department of Energy and Nuclear Waste Partnership say that the current method also measures the air between waste containers and is not accurate. In January, the DOE and NWP submitted a permit modification request to the New Mexico Environment Department. They claim WIPP is only one-third full if calculated with the new method—which determines volume based on the inner waste container rather than using the outer container’s overall volume as is done now. The outer volume would still be reported to the state if the changes are made, allowing officials to track the physical space available.
Graduation Rates Steady, Still 50th in US
Public Education Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski announced last month that New Mexico's high school graduation rates have stayed a record 71 percent since last year.
According to Ruszkowski, the graduation rate for Hispanic students has risen to nearly 71 percent, compared to less than 60 percent in 2011. However, despite the record high, the state was once again ranked 50th in the nation. Only the District of Columbia had a lower graduation rate than New Mexico, with 69.2 percent of its students finishing high school. The Public Education Department says it's working to improve the graduation rate by hiring more school personnel to battle truancy. The department is also reportedly implementing systems in some schools that will help faculty identify students with academic, disciplinary or attendance problems who might need additional attention.
Albuquerque Public Schools reported a slight increase in its graduation rate in 2017, rising to around 68 percent. APS' graduation rate has increased by six percentage points over the last two years. The national graduation rate is over 80 percent.
March Brings Attention to School Safety
Students across the state are calling for laws and policies that will make their schools safer. A community-wide march has been planned for March 24, to coincide with the nationwide “March for Our Lives” event, created by survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla. Organizers say they are advocating for violence prevention, support services and an end to mass shootings. According to the event's Facebook page, organizers are also against environments where students are “criminalized” through the use of metal detectors, zero tolerance policies and armed teachers.
The march begins at 10am on Old Town Plaza and is slated to end in Tiguex Park at 11am, when a rally will be held there.