APS construction projects continue despite dwindling funds

After voters rejected Albuquerque Public Schools tax hikes, the district was left scrambling to come up with a new construction plan. Some schools were lucky, their projects were already in the pipeline or in the works.

Construction signs hang around the Ventana Ranch Elementary School as more classrooms are going in. This is one of a handful of current APS projects, others include a new gym at Highland High and building a new softball field at Eldorado High.

APS has made it clear it’s struggling to find ways to pay for a long list of projects, which left some wondering, where is the money for this current work coming from?

“This was a project from the 2016 money,” said APS Chief of Operations Scott Elder. “I think there is a misconception that we get all that money in 2016. It’s a six-year cycle so we get a sixth of the money every year.”

APS said these current projects are from old money and can finish a few projects with it. It’s a huge shift after the district had to regroup and re-prioritize their needs after their $900-million bond and property tax election was voted down a few months ago.

“It was really hard to narrow it down because the projects we placed in February are still really necessary and needed,” said Elder.

That’s why APS is going back t the polls again in the fall. This time, the district is not asking to raise taxes, but to continue an existing mill levy that is about to run out.

“That specifically would go towards maintenance and equipment in the schools, so that would include educational computers, software, band equipment, PE equipment, CTE science labs, that sort of thing,” said Elder.

Parents who KRQE News 13 spoke with said they would be happy to continue the current bonds without an increase.

“I believe we can really make a difference now,” said APS parent Randy Rogers.

The $115 million property tax would also be paid out over six years. This won’t be another mail-in election; this APS question will be on the regular ballot on Nov. 5.

In the wake of that February defeat, the district has postponed a slew of projects, including a remodel of McKinley Middle School and an employee health clinic.

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