While New Mexico may be known for its stunning landscapes, ancient Puebloan architecture, and the Albuquerque International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, did you also know that it's home to several large school districts?
While New Mexico may not grade very high on U.S. News and World Reports education rankings, there are still many educational opportunities for students. Some of the best schools in New Mexico make this state not only a scenic place to live but also a great place to receive a quality education.
Let's dive in to learn more about some of the largest school districts in the beautiful state of New Mexico.
Albuquerque Public Schools
6400 Uptown Blvd. NE, Albuquerque NM 87110
Total Number of Schools: 143
Total Number of Students Enrolled: 81,762
Albuquerque Public Schools is ranked as the largest school district in the state of New Mexico according to Niche. Out of 89 total school districts in the state, APS covers more than 1,200 square miles and enrolls a fourth of the state's public school students. Their school directory lists 31 charter schools as well as 12 magnet schools in the district.
While APS is a very large district, it's still able to keep above-average testing scores in both math and reading. The district also has a student-to-teacher ratio of 18:1 and is ranked as the seventh most diverse school district in the state. Additionally, Albuquerque Public Schools is the largest employer in the city, with 11,000 full-time job opportunities.
Las Cruces Public Schools
505 S. Main St, Suite 249, Las Cruces, NM 88001
Total Number of Schools: 40
Total Number of Students Enrolled: Approximately 25,000
Located 45 minutes north of the US-Mexico border is Las Cruces Public Schools. As the second largest district in the state, LCPS enrolls nearly 25,000 students, has 3,200 employees, and serves 91,000 people through Las Cruces and the surrounding cities. Because Las Cruces also has New Mexico State University, the school system can offer early college classes on this campus.
The student-to-teacher ratio is higher than APS at 20:1 but is ranked by Niche as one of the top 25 districts with the best teachers in New Mexico. Additionally, some of the schools in the district take part in the National Hispanic Recognition Program. This program “creates pathways to college for underrepresented students.”
Rio Rancho Public Schools
500 Laser Rd NE, Rio Rancho, NM 87124
Total Number of Schools: 21
Total Number of Students Enrolled: 17,256 as of March 2023
Ranking #1 as the best school district in the Albuquerque area according to Niche, is the Rio Rancho Public School District. This district is also ranked fifth-best in the state of New Mexico as a whole. RRPS is known for its higher graduation rate (nearly 90% in 20-21) and has only been in formation since July of 1994.
The student-to-teacher ratio is the same as Las Cruces Public Schools at 20:1. The district's website states that it employs just over 2,300 people. Additionally, RRPS is known for its athletics and extracurricular programs. The district is also unique in that it offers Parent University, where parents, staff, guardians, and community members can watch free online webinars.
Gadsden Independent School District
4950 McNutt Road, Sunland Park, NM 88063
Total Number of Schools: 24
Total Number of Students Enrolled: Approximately 14,200
Gadsden Independent School District covers about 1,400 square miles through the Southern Dona Ana and Southern Otero counties of New Mexico. While this district has more schools than RRPS, its student population is significantly lower. Much of the Gadsden ISD covers ranch ground and the Rio Grande Valley, all in the extreme southern part of the state.
While the student-to-teacher ratio is lower than many of the larger school districts listed above at 16:1, Niche reports that this district does not score very high in its academics and proficiency ratings. Still, Gadsden ISD celebrates its rich history and has the opportunity to offer early college credits through its high school, Alta Vista.
Santa Fe Public Schools
610 Alta Vista Street, Santa Fe, NM 87505
Total Number of Schools: 30
Total Number of Students Enrolled: 11,989
Santa Fe Public Schools is home to 3 National Blue Ribbon Schools and offers a 1:1 Chromebook/iPad implementation to its students. SFPS has a relatively high graduation rate and also gives students the chance to enroll in 20 AP college credit courses. Additionally, the district is proud to have more than 15 Golden Apple award-winning teachers on staff.
The student-to-teacher ratio is also relatively low at 17:1. SFPS offers bilingual education options as well as career tech education and dual credit courses. It also partners with Santa Fe Community College and the Santa Fe Higher Education Center to help students enroll in classes after graduation.
Farmington Municipal Schools
3401 E. 30th Street, Farmington, New Mexico 87402
Total Number of Schools: 19
Total Number of Students Enrolled: More than 11,000
Coming in as the 14th best school district in the state of New Mexico is Farmington Municipal Schools. With more than 23 languages served and 141 students receiving bilingual seals, this school is strong in its diversity. In fact, it's ranked as the most diverse school district in the state by Niche. It's also home to 2 National Blue Ribbon Schools and has managed to increase its graduation rate by 15% since 2010.
With a student-to-teacher ratio of 18:1, this district also offers an above-average starting teacher salary. Additionally, 19 teachers in the district are National Board Certified. FMS also has strong scholarship earnings, numerous students enrolled in career and technical classes, and more than 100 students participating in the Work-Based Learning Student Internship Program.
Gallup-McKinley County Schools
640 S. Boardman, Gallup, N.M. 87301
Total Number of Schools: 33
Total Number of Students Enrolled: 10,104
While Gallup-McKinley County Schools may be lower in student enrollment, its 4,857 acres make it geographically the largest-sized school district in the state. The district's mission is to prepare “our students for excellence in a multicultural society” and meets this need with its three-year strategic plan and its #1 average proficiency growth ranking.
The Gallup-McKinley district is unique in that it covers the Navajo Nation and the Zuni Pueblo. 3,356 students (roughly 30%) are English Language Learners and the district continues to increase its classroom engagement rate. Additionally, all schools in the district are able to offer a 100% free lunch program to their students.
Roswell Independent School District
300 N Kentucky, Roswell, NM 88201
Total Number of Schools: 21
Total Number of Students Enrolled: 9,854
Located in notorious Roswell, New Mexico is the Roswell Independent School District. This district is home to more than 20 schools, including 13 elementary schools, 4 middle schools, and 4 high schools. Each school is located within the Roswell city limits.
The student-to-teacher ratio is much higher here at 21:1. Niche also reports that student proficiency scores are relatively low compared to the national and state averages. However, Roswell ISD does offer AP courses as well as a gifted program.
While New Mexico may be known for far more than its educational options, it's clear that these large school districts have a lot to offer their students. From educational opportunities to athletics, fine arts, and specialized programs, every student is sure to find their fit in one of the massive school districts in this state.
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