Rural school districts in New Mexico hope to keep 4-day weeks

Rural school districts in New Mexico hope to keep 4-day weeks

Many rural school districts in New Mexico have been enjoying a three-day weekend for a long time. Now, one state agency is trying to change that.

SOCORRO, N.M. – The Socorro School District Superintendent says the New Mexico Public Education Department is trying to create a new rule that would make schools have a certain number of days in the school year. 

That comes after the New Mexico state Legislature passed a law saying schools only had to have a certain number of hours. 

He says his school district is not happy about the possible change. 

“We have more opportunities in these little, small towns because of our demographics,” said Socorro School Board President Dave Hicks. 

Hicks is talking about the district’s four-day school week. 

“We’re not Albuquerque, we’re not you know, we’re not a huge Las Cruces. They can do unique things we can’t do, but we can also do unique things that they can’t do,” said Hicks. 

Socorro’s students have Fridays off, when the district offers voluntary CTE programs for older children like welding or automotive. Now, their four-day week is threatened by the New Mexico Public Education Department. 

Socorro Superintendent Ron Hendrix says he got a notice from the PED that the department will hold a rule hearing to change that. 

It will require 180 days of instruction – overruling House Bill 130 passed by the state Legislature, requiring a certain number of hours of instruction. 

“We had a compromise, the Legislature jumped in there and said ‘We don’t want to say it’s done by days, it can be done by hours, which is in statute.’ And so that’s what we really fought for, and the legislators helped us with that,” said Hendrix. 

Hendrix says the four-day week is a way to keep teachers. Since the switch, the district has been fully staffed.

“Teacher morale has been off the charts since we started this. Right now I have 22% of my teachers that drive in from other communities. I have another about 9-11% that can retire tomorrow if they wanted to, but they’re staying because of the four-day week,” said Hendrix. 

38 other rural districts are also on a four-day school week, and would have to rethink their entire curriculum. 

Hendrix says superintendents across the state are set to meet this Friday about this issue. The PED hearing is set for sometime in December.