Governor to fund early college high schools

Gov. Susana Martinez announced her plans to increase funding to establish more early college high schools across New Mexico

Joshua Kellogg

FARMINGTON — New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez on Tuesday announced her intention to increase funding to create more early college high schools across the state.
She made the announcement at a San Juan College event held to recognize the work of the college and San Juan County school districts in developing an early college high school, which is scheduled to open by the 2016-2017 school year.
Martinez said Arrowhead Park Early College High School in Las Cruces was the only early college high school in the state when she ran for office in 2010 and now there are 11 such schools.
“To make sure we build on this momentum, I plan to include additional funding for special initiatives in my budget proposals for the next year,” Martinez said.
Representatives from the Aztec, Bloomfield and Farmington school districts, as well as the college formed the Four Corners Educational Council for Student Success to establish a high school where students can earn a high school diploma and two years of college credit in four years.
The council was awarded a $349,000 grant from the New Mexico Public Education Department this summer to for developing the school, which is expected to open in August 2016.
“The students who attend one of these schools have the amazing opportunity to earn a high school diploma and college credit,” Martinez said.
During her speech, Martinez said more than $1.4 million in startup funds have been awarded to the 11 early college high schools over the life of the program.
She said Arrowhead Park Early College High School has a graduation rate of nearly 98 percent, which was an important factor in her decision to continue supporting the early college high schools.

Martinez said the proposed early college high school in San Juan County, where multiple school districts will work together, could be a model for rural New Mexico districts that want to develop an early college high school.
College President Toni Pendergrass said she was happy Martinez was so supportive of the early college high school model.
“We believe we will make this work and it will become an opportunity for rural schools throughout New Mexico to create partnerships like this that will work for them as well,” Farmington Superintendent Gene Schmidt said.
Martinez attended a press conference earlier Tuesday along U.S. Highway 64 to highlight the $5.8 million in capital outlay funding secured in August during the special session for road improvements. The funding will help pay for Phase 5 of the Highway 64 project, which will expand the road to six lanes between Bloomfield and Farmington.
She said San Juan County plays a critical role in the state’s economic growth and wanted to make sure the capital outlay funds were in place to finish the project.
“This is a key corridor for commercial traffic and a well-traveled route that has been under design or construction for the last 10 years,” Martinez said. “That’s a long, long time for a road."
Martinez was joined by Sen. Steven Neville, R-Aztec; Rep. James Strickler, R-Farmington; Rep. Sharon Clahchischilliage, R-Kirtland; and Rep. Rod Montoya, R-Farmington at the highway funding announcement.
Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 and Follow him @jkelloggdt on Twitter.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez speaks Sept. 29 at San Juan College in Farmington.
San Juan County President Toni Pendergrass gives a speech on Tuesday at San Juan College in Farmington.
Gov. Susana Martinez on Tuesday talks about state funding for improvements on U.S. Highway 64  during a press conference at New Mexico Department of Transportation building in Farmington.
Marcos Trujillo, left, policy director for the New Mexico Department of Transportation, shakes hands with Gov. Susana Martinez on Tuesday during a press conference in Farmington on funding for improvements along U.S. Highway 64.