Education Digest: Pre-kindergarten rank improves

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

New Mexico improved its rank on “The State of Preschool: 2006 State Preschool Yearbook” by the National Institute for Early Education Research, according to a New Mexico Public Education Department press release.

Released Wednesday, the report rates pre-kindergarten and child development programs based on funding resources, teacher credentials, class size, program access and quality standards.

New Mexico met five of 10 criteria and was recognized for its comprehensive early learning standards, class size, staff-child ratio, health screening and individual program and home visits, the release reads.

This rating places New Mexico at a midpoint with other states.

Last year’s Legislature appropriated $8 million for pre-k. This year, legislators are considering $6 million in new appropriations that would bring the total for FY 2008 to $14 million.

Public pre-k programs brought early learning opportunities to 1,500 children in 2006.

Drug-testing grants available to schools
The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and the U.S. Department of Education are offering federal grants for school-based student drug-testing programs, according to an Office of National Drug Control Policy press release.

Approximately $1.6 million in grants is available, the release reads.

The Department of Education expects to award 11 grants, with an estimated grant amount of $150,000. The deadline to submit grant applications is May 8.

Applications for drug-testing grants are available online at

State offers help for pandemic plans
The New Mexico Department of Health and New Mexico Public Education Department recently distributed information to help public and charter schools and education and health organizations prepare for the potential of a pandemic flu, according to a New Mexico Public Education Department press release.

The departments developed a 35-page resource document to help schools promote healthy environments and craft their own preparedness plans.

The guide covers the risk of pandemic flu in schools, school emergency plans, family emergency plans and supplies, district wellness policies, health promotion and infection control policies, school closure and operation during an outbreak and home care.

The guide is available online at and

Free tax return preparation offered
Eastern New Mexico University College of Business faculty and students are assisting the Portales AARP chapter prepare tax returns for area residents 1:45-4:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday afternoons in Room 103 of the College of Business Building. The service is free.
Low-income residents and the elderly are given preference, but those who do not require itemized deductions are also free to participate.
Information: 562-2315.

Thursday: The Department of Music at Eastern New Mexico University is presenting the ENMU Jazz Fest at 7 p.m. in Buchanan Hall of the Music Building and 7 p.m. Friday on the Main Stage of the University Theatre Center.
For information, contact Christopher Beaty at 562-2471.

Saturday: The Department of Music at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales will host an all-day brass workshop for university and area high school brass students. There is a participation fee of $10, which includes lunch on campus, and a $5 admission fee for an evening concert.
For information, contact Michael Ellzey, ENMU assistant professor of music, at 562-2350 or e-mail

Sunday: High Plains Chorale “Major Work” concert will be performed at 2:30 p.m. in the Clovis Community College Town Hall.

Education Digest is compiled from local and wire reports by CNJ staff writer Marlena Hartz. She may be contacted at 763-6991, or by e-mail: