Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

School safety, psychometrically sound home inspection tests

SANTA FE, NM (KRQE) – Monday, January 30, legislators are back to the grindstone. Of course, bills will be heard in committee hearings throughout the day, but here are a few interesting ones to watch.

Statewide school safety

In a big-budget bill, legislators are looking to fund improvements to school safety and security across the state. Senate Bill 95, sponsored by Senators George K. Munoz (D-Cibola, McKinley & San Juan) and T. Ryan Lane (R-San Juan), would put $25 million towards that goal.

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Throughout 2022, legislators heard testimony from school districts who were hoping to get funds for things like metal detectors, electronic entry systems, and even gunshot detection tech, according to an analysis by the Legislative Finance Committee. Of course, such asks are both responses to, and preventative measures for, tragedies such as the Uvalde school shooting.

There was already a multi-year program for schools to access funds for those types of security projects. From fiscal year 2018 to fiscal year 2022, that program set aside $10 million per year for such upgrades. But, according to the Legislative Finance Committee, school districts didn’t take full advantage of that program, and the cumbersome application process may have been one reason it was underutilized.

Now, this new bill would give the Public Education Department (PED) $25 million to distribute how they see fit (following a PED-defined methodology). A similar bill (Senate Bill 131) proposed this year would also provide funding for school security.

Psychometrically sound inspection tests

When you buy a home, the last thing you probably consider is whether or not your home inspector’s credentials are “psychometrically sound.” But House Bill 115 aims to ensure just that.

The bill, sponsored by Representatives Kathleen Cates (D-Corrales) and Joanne J. Ferrary (D-Doña Ana), would require New Mexico’s licensed home inspectors to pass a “psychometrically sound” home examiners’ standardized test. So, what does that mean?

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It means they’d need to pass a test developed according to accepted educational and psychological testing standards. For example, the National Examination Board of Professional Home Inspectors offers what they advertise as a “psychometrically-sound home inspector exam.”

On a podcast, Brendan Ryan the president of the national Examination Board of Professional Home Inspectors, explained what it means. In essence, it means that the test for home inspectors is developed by professional test makers and psychology experts. The idea is that the test needs to be a reliable, high-quality test, rather than just a handful of “true-or-false” questions.

In case you missed it: Interesting bills so far

Last week, debate picked up around a few interesting topics. One of those was whether or not sex offenders should be chemically castrated.

Introduced by Republicans Stefani Lord (Tijeras & Edgewood) and John Block (Alamogordo), one bill aims to require some sex offenders to be chemically castrated. Interestingly, it’s not the first time the legislature has dealt with such a proposal. For more info, check out this KRQE News 13 story.

Another interesting bill proposed funding free school meals for all children in New Mexico’s public and charter schools. The initial version of the bill proposed doing so regardless of family income.

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