Newscity: Education Secretary Talks Reform, Developer Loses Water Rights Battle, Facebook Data Center Opens Doors

Education Secretary Talks Reform

Joshua Lee
3 min read
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New Mexico’s recently appointed Secretary of Education Karen Trujillo outlined her plans for school reform last week during a news conference at the capitol.

According to the
Santa Fe New Mexican, Trujillo told reporters “We’re not here to shut schools down. We’re here to lift them up,” signaling a change in culture at the state’s Public Education Department. Last month Governor Lujan Grisham announced the state’s schools would no longer be administering PARCC, a standardized test used to assess student performance which has been criticized for punishing teachers unduly. Trujillo has also said she wants to do away with the department’s current practice of grading public schools’ performance with an A through F system. Both institutions are part of an approved plan that meets the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, however, and the new administration is reportedly working on new programs to replace them.

Trujillo said one last year of school grades and PARCC-related evaluations might be necessary before any new programs can be approved. The department is reportedly attempting to develop a new assessment test that will be more culturally relevant to the state’s students than the current one.

Newscity: Developer Loses Water Rights Battle

A developer’s request to access over 100 million gallons of groundwater annually to develop a planned community was rejected by a New Mexico judge last week.

Associated Press reports State District Judge Shannon Bacon ruled against Aquifer Science’s application for water rights, filed in 2009 on behalf of Campbell Ranch, a planned housing community in the East Mountains. The judge ruled that the proposal would impair existing water rights and wasn’t prepared with water conservation in mind.

It is unclear what this means for the future of the planned community, which was to be
built along Highway 14 on 25,000 acres owned by the Campbell Corporation. According to a press release, the company is evaluating whether to appeal the court’s decision.

Newscity: Facebook Data Center Opens Doors

The Facebook data center in Los Lunas is holding its grand opening this week over two years after the project’s inception.

According to
Albuquerque Business First, the grand opening, set for Thursday, Feb. 7, will include tours of the brand new facility, which the company says will employ a number of New Mexicans. According to a spokesperson, a typical two-building center supports over 100 full-time positions, and the Los Lunas facility is expected to be a six-building site by its completion.

The data center is New Mexico’s largest industrial revenue bond project—an agreement between a local government and a company that ensures investments in return for reductions in property and gross receipts taxes. Facebook is reportedly prepared to invest $30 million in IRBs over the next 30 years.

The project was originally slated to open in 2018, but labor shortages reportedly delayed construction. The project is expected to be completed by 2023.
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