After years of the Rio Rancho Public Schools transportation department being underfunded, it’s time for the New Mexico Public Education Department to fix the problem now.

It appears there is a unique complex formula for funding school bus transportation for all New Mexico school districts, but it does not work for Rio Rancho.

This underfunding has been addressed to Santa Fe for some years by the Rio Rancho Public Schools district, along with other school districts. Unfortunately, those in charge at the New Mexico Department of Public Education do no understand or are just unwilling to fix the problem.

As a former 11-year school bus attendant for special-needs students of the state of New Mexico, and employed at the RRPS district, I have observed this underfunding. I observed buses needing to be replaced, others breaking down with expensive repairs and the ongoing shortage of school bus drivers.

Perhaps the major flaw in the funding formula is that the RRPS district covers over 100 square miles of Rio Rancho and other outlying areas to transport students to and from schools. Our schools are located all over the city; therefore, many miles are drive by our school buses.

If the existing formula does not take this into account, then fix the formula as soon as possible or just eliminate it altogether.

Perhaps a new formula should be implemented with a lot less complexity. I believe other states also use a formula for funding school bus transportation expenses, but do they underfund their school districts?

I believe other states do not use a formula at all and perhaps fund school bus transportation on actual expenses incurred for each school year.

We citizens of Rio Rancho must support our school district in this continued battler with the New Mexico Department of Public Education on school bus transportation funding. As a community, perhaps we can send letters to our governor, our elected officials and perhaps our local TV news media.

I believe that this important issue needs to be fixed now.

It’s been reported by our school district already that our school bus transportation funding for this 2021-22 school year has a deficit, perhaps by as much as $1 million.

This situation should be resolved now, and we as a community need to help and have our school district reimbursed for our school bus transportation expenses.

Let us make this a priority, along with keeping our students and school employees safe with this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As always, the decision to vaccinate or not is up to the parents.

Going forward, our children’s safety and education is always a major priority.

We must also support our Rio Rancho Public Schools district when it comes to safe, effective and correct funding of school bus transportation.

Thomas E. Carter
Rio Rancho

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