Welcome to our new web site!

To give our readers a chance to experience all that our new website has to offer, we have made all content freely avaiable, through October 1, 2018.

During this time, print and digital subscribers will not need to log in to view our stories or e-editions.

State education secretary: ‘Pieces are in place’


New Mexico “is poised to do some great things” in public education, the new secretary of the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) told the Bulletin.

A former Las Cruces Public Schools teacher and principal and New Mexico State University regent, Arsenio Romero, Ph.D. was named NMPED secretary March 6 by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, replacing Kurt Steinhaus, who retired.

“With his broad range of experience as a teacher, a principal, and superintendent in districts across the state, I have full confidence that (Romero) will continue to build innovation and access for New Mexico students,” Lujan Grisham said. “Dr. Romero has the vision and expertise to implement the changes our public education system needs.”

“He was my first choice” (to succeed Steinhaus), said state Sen. Bill Soules of Las Cruces, who is chair of the Senate Education Committee.

The legislature overwhelmingly passed House Bill 130 less than a week after Romero became NMPED secretary, increasing instructional time for most New Mexico school districts. Lujan Grisham signed it into law March 16, the day after Romero was confirmed as NMPED secretary by the state Senate.

During the session, the legislature and governor also approved an average six percent pay raise for educators and doubled the salary for educational assistants.

With that kind of support from the governor and legislature and “a great team” at NMPED, “All the pieces are in place,” Romero said. “We are going to have results.”

In addition to increased learning time for students, Romero said he wants NMPED to base its decisions on “accurate, reliable data,” and said an upgraded data system and website will soon be in place.

He said the department also must continue to focus on the 2018 Yazzie/Martinez court ruling that mandates New Mexico provide students with a sufficient public education, including at-risk students.

Another priority, Romero said, is addressing the high turnover among teachers, principals and superintendents in New Mexico schools. Through better recruitment and retention efforts, the state can “build pipelines” to fill teacher shortages that also train future principals and superintendents, he said.

The state should focus on each student’s educational career from age 3-4 until he or she is ready to enter the workforce, Romero said. That means seeing the state Early Childhood Education and Care Department, NMPED and the state Higher Education Department “as an aligned entity,” he said.

“It’s about building relationships” among educators, administrators and legislators and the governor to “do what’s best for kids,” Romero said.

A parent (Romero and his wife, Amber, have four children enrolled in LCPS schools, including one who is autistic), former elementary school teacher and principal, superintendent and university regent, “now I have the opportunity to bring it all together,” Romero said.

Romero, who turns 49 this month, has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a Ph.D. in educational management and development, both from NMSU. He has a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of New Mexico. Romero maintains a home in Las Cruces.

A native of Belen (his mother taught first grade there for 25 years), Romero began his career in education as an elementary school teacher and principal in Las Cruces. He served as assistant superintendent for instruction and transformation for Roswell Independent School District before being named superintendent and CEO of Deming Public Schools. He became superintendent in Los Lunas in January 2021.

Romero was named national superintendent of the year by the Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrations in 2019 and was named 2021 administrator of the year by the New Mexico Association of Elementary Principals.

NMPED receives about 47 percent of New Mexico’s annual budget and oversees the education of nearly 325,000 K-12 students in 89 school districts across the state that range in size from about 75,000 students in Albuquerque Public Schools and 25,000 in LCPS to fewer than 100 in some rural districts.