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Morning Word: Skandera to Leave Education Post

June 8, 2017, 7:30 am

Skandera quits
Controversial New Mexico Education Secretary Hanna Skandera is quitting in less than two weeks. The career educator, who took flak from teachers for never having worked in a classroom, tells the Albuquerque Journal she's not sure what's next. The state Senate refused to confirm Skandera's nomination to the position for years, though she could technically serve anyway despite the snub. Her data-based education policies were met with derision by many teachers, though Skandera says she's pleased that New Mexico high schools are graduating more students than when she arrived. Her replacement has not been named. 

Money, kids out the door
A state report authored by two executive agencies and a legislative committee says New Mexico spent nearly half its child behavioral health funding on away-from-home programs for 200 kids. That spending averaged $60,000 per child, but the programs on which it was spent haven't been shown to be worth that money. The report says funding could be better used on early childhood programs.

Judge approves pay-to-play settlement
A state District Court judge has approved a $24 million settlement between the state and an investment company that lost some $90 million in public money after making bad investments. The settlement was actually agreed to in 2013, but the process—much like the pay-to-play scandal that precipitated it—is rather complicated.

Who wants a rate hike?
Public Regulation Commissioner Sandy Jones would like to know just that. A proposed rate hike for PNM would see consumers paying seven percent more than they do now over the next two years. Jones is holding a series of public meetings in his southern New Mexico district to hear what people think.

Chief Justice Nakamura
The New Mexico Supreme Court has a new chief justice. She's Judith Nakamura, a Republican who is familiar to folks in Albuquerque after a long career at both Metro Court and the Second Judicial District Court. Nakamura will handle many of the administrative duties of running the courts. She'll be a familiar face at the Legislature, too, as the court system continues to battle for funding.

THAT'S his name?
A tortoise with a penchant for escaping his home in Eldorado was found the other day. He'd escaped the backyard by pushing through a gate and heading out into sweet, sweet freedom. It was his third time doing that. A neighbor found him by Hwy, 285 and hung onto him until his owner called to pick up Speedbump. Yep.

Mowed down
Workers at a pre-kindergarten school in Portales thought vandals had ripped through a garden planted by 3- and 4-year-olds. Beans, squash and pea plants were destroyed. But that didn't happen. Eastern New Mexico University, which houses the program, says a maintenance worker mowed the garden down accidentally. A lone squash plant survived.
 
Storms clear
It'll be another warm day today, with highs in the mid-80's, but it's not likely to be as stormy because of drier air pushing into the state from the west. If you're headed into the eastern part of New Mexico, it's more likely to storm. Looks like it'll stay warm through the weekend.

Thanks for reading! The Word is wondering how to both write and listen to James Comey testify. It may not be possible. Writing demands loyalty.

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