LCPS at a Glance
Las Cruces Public School District is the second largest school district in New Mexico. Located 45 miles north of the Mexican border, it encompasses the City of Las Cruces, the villages of La Mesilla and Doña Ana, and covers the middle third of Doña Ana County.
The district has 38 schools: 25 elementary schools (grades pre-K-5), eight middle schools (grades 6-8) and six high schools (two are alternative high schools). The district also has one vocational high school program providing career technical education (CTE) to 8th – 12th grade students.
Student enrollment is approximately 24,400 students. Las Cruces Public Schools is the third largest employer in Doña Ana County with more than 3,600 employees, which includes about 2,200 classroom teachers and educational assistants.
The Las Cruces Public Schools (LCPS) district encompasses over 1400 square miles of the fertile Mesilla Valley along the Rio Grande—approximately the middle third of Doña Ana County. This region includes the City of Las Cruces as well as the villages of La Mesilla and Doña Ana. Lying 45 miles north of the Mexican border, LCPS remains the second largest school district in New Mexico with 35 schools pre-K through 12.
LCPS is the third largest employer in Doña Ana County, following White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) and New Mexico State University (NMSU) with over 3600 employees including 2200 classroom teachers and educational assistants. Other large employers include Wal-Mart and Memorial Medical Center, marking the contrast between highly-skilled, technical labor and less-skilled, entry-level demands.
The estimated population of Las Cruces was over 86,000 of 2006 with a significant number of families residing in neighboring villages. Though population growth has remained at 3% overall since the 1970’s, surges in growth have presented challenges to LCPS. For instance, over 4800 new soldiers are expected to arrive at WSMR by 2013; considering family and support staff, this may bring over 16,000 new residents to the area including an estimated 2200 school-aged children.
Las Cruces is also unusual in that its residents represent high numbers at either end of the educational attainment spectrum. Among those 25 years and older, nearly 20% have not achieved a high school diploma while over 28% of residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Over 12% hold a graduate or professional degree. These tacit disparities parental education and income levels pose challenges for LCPS in offering “equal” educational opportunities for its students.
LCPS Student Population
The LCPS District is comprised of 35 schools including 24 elementary schools (grades pre-K-5), seven middle schools (grades 6-8) and four high schools (grades 9-12). The district also includes one vocational high school providing career technical education (CTE) to 8th through 12th grade students.
Enrollment as of January 21, 2009 consisted of 23,913 students including:
- Hispanic: 71%
- Caucasian (non-Hispanic): 24%
- African-American, Native American, Asian, and other: 3% or less each
- Special Education (A-D): 20%
- Gifted: 7%
Over 62% of LCPS students receive a free or reduced lunch while approximately 40% of students speak a language other than English, usually Spanish, at home. The Educational Plan for Student Success (EPSS) data provided by LCPS points toward a marked disparity between “white” and “non-white” students in both literacy and numeracy and appear to correlate with levels of parental income and education.
The broad range of family income, education, culture, and use of English at home present unusual challenges for educators in meeting educational goals. Similarly, demands for distinctly “highly-skilled” and “less-skilled” labor as well as population surges further complicate educational demands as well as parental expectations. Funded Projects such as MC2 and the Borderlands Writing Project facilitated by the Educational Research and Budgeting Office at NMSU address many of these challenges through research and outreach.