House Bill 43, which would take several steps to ease the facility funding burden on charter schools, passed unanimously out of the New Mexico House of Representatives Education Committee on Friday.
If passed through both houses of the state legislature and signed into law, the bill would:
- Create a $10 million Charter School Facility Revolving Fund. The fund would not be used for construction but would be available for schools currently in lease purchase agreements to use for refinancing. Only charter schools that are established and have been renewed at least once would be eligible to tap the fund.
- Ensure that available public land and facilities not used by school districts would be offered to charter schools. This provision would be enforced by the Public Schools Facilities Authority.
- Standardize what is currently a $700 per student lease assistance payment for charter schools. The amount of lease assistance charters currently receive is unpredictable because it is allocated based on the square footage of instructional space in schools, as measured by the Public School Capital Outlay Council.
- Help charter schools get onto school district bond funding elections and distributions.
A similar bill last year died in committee, but proponents are optimistic it will gain better traction this year.
Matt Pahl, executive director of Public Charter Schools of New Mexico, said the loan fund would “allow charter schools as public institutions to get public funding for their facilities, whereas now they need to go to the private bond market or to other states’ bonding authorities.”
The bill garnered strong support from people speaking during public comment as well as from members of the committee.
It now moves onto the House Appropriations and Finance Committee and, if it passes there, a floor vote.