School days extended in Las Cruces

Districts across the state will extend academic calendars after passage of HB 130

By: - April 28, 2023 4:00 am

Reunión del Consejo de Educación de las Escuelas Públicas de Las Cruces. De izquierda a derecha, Carol Cooper, Robert Wofford, Teresa Tenorio, Pamela Cort, Patrick Nolan y el Superintendente interino Sherley O’Brien. (Captura de pantalla de transmisión en directo)

Las Cruces Public Schools will extend the school day by 10 minutes each day, just one of many districts needing to lengthen their academic year in response to a law passed during the 2023 legislative session. 

Other districts are choosing to extend the school’s academic calendar rather than adjust the school day. Albuquerque Public Schools board voted April 5 to extend the school year by an additional four days.

House Bill 130 requires districts to increase all of the instructional hours for K-12 to 1,140 hours per year. Previous rules were a minimum of 990 hours at elementary schools and 1,080 at secondary schools. When the bill was enacted, only a quarter of New Mexico’s 189 public and charter elementary schools, and about half of secondary schools met the hour requirements, according to a financial analysis of the bill. 

Deputy Superintendent Wendi Miller-Tomlinson presented the information at Tuesday’s Board of Education Meeting, as part of the process of submitting a budget to the state’s Public Education Department.

“This is one of the steps necessary to get our budget approved,” she told the board.

Las Cruces Schools start and end times for 2023-24

Elementary schools — 8 a.m. – 2:40 p.m.

Middle schools — 8:55 a.m. – 3:55 p.m.

High schools — 8:25 a.m. – 3:25 p.m.

With a 10-minute addition to the day, elementary schools next semester will run from 8 a.m. to 2:40 p.m.

“The time was added to the end of the day, so that children would not have to go to the bus stop 10 minutes earlier in the morning,” she said. “That’s problematic in the winter when it is dark in the morning.”

Middle schools will run from 8:55 a.m. to 3:55 p.m. High schools will run from 8:25 a.m. to 3:25 p.m.

Miller-Tomlinson said the schedule allows for complete bus runs between each school level, and minimizes disruption.

Miller-Tomlinson recounted that state officials verbally said lunch and lunch recesses would not count towards the instructional requirement.

“We would like to see something more concrete in writing, but we have not seen that yet,” she said.

LCPS schools operate on a year-round school calendar, with spring semester ending in early June and the new fall semester starting in late July. There are two-week breaks in fall, winter and spring.

The estimated statewide costs for the change ranges from $171 million to $245 million, according to a fiscal impact report on the bill. 

Some of those costs would be offset by repealing programs to extend school days for kindergarten through fifth grade, and opt-in arrangement for a longer academic year. The fiscal report estimates a savings of $34 million to $108 million.


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Danielle Prokop
Danielle Prokop

Danielle Prokop covers the environment and local government in Southern New Mexico for Source NM. Her coverage has delved into climate crisis on the Rio Grande, water litigation and health impacts from pollution. She is based in Las Cruces, New Mexico.