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New Mexico poverty pilot sends millions to poorest schools

SANTA FE – New Mexico education officials will send $15 million to 108 of the state's most impoverished schools as part of a pilot program passed into law earlier this year.

The Public Education Department created the list by drawing on anonymized tax records to measure each school by the percentage of students who come from households with low or very low incomes. That means annual incomes of around $34,000 for a family of four.

The Family Income Index will be used to issue awards over the next two years as part of the legislation.

The state already funds school districts based on what type of students they serve, offering more money for special education and others who require more expensive services. Poor school districts also receive more federal funding.

“Unlike most programs that funnel money through school districts, the Family Income Index gets extra aid directly to the schools that need it most to offset the effects of concentrated poverty,” Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart said.

Schools have a broad mandate to use the money to help narrow academic achievement gaps in low-income communities by offering one-on-one tutoring services, at-home counseling and other services.