APS can’t afford to finish performing arts school redesign

Education

Albuquerque Public Schools won’t be able to finish what they’ve started, at least not yet.

Since voters defeated every bond measure in the mail-in election, the district doesn’t have the money to finish construction at one APS campus. 

One of the buildings at the Janet Kahn School of Integrated Arts is nearly done, but students will have to stay in the old building until the district can afford to start phase two of the project. 

“How can you start a project and not have money to finish?” said Tim Henry.

APS officials say the answer is obvious: “We need the money from the election to complete this school,” said Kizito Wijenje, Capital Master Plan Executive Director. 

Since they don’t have it, the second phase of the Janet Khan Project isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

“We’ll be operating in half the old school and part of the new school,” Wijenje said. 

The school will be kindergarten through eighth grade and focus on performing arts. 

As for the other projects, the mill levy bond would have paid for, “Those will not start at all,” Wijenje said. 

The Janet Khan project cost about $25 million, the first phase was paid for with money from a past bond election. 

Meanwhile, some residents think the district wasted taxpayer dollars on their new $21 million teacher development facility.

“If they are looking for space to use, the high schools always have space, the central office has space that could be used. That was a huge loss of money,” Henry said. 

District leaders say they made the best decisions with the information they had at the time. 

“We can double-guess and say, ‘Ok, which project should we not have done five years ago?’ Because we thought five years from now we’re going to lose a bond election…We don’t work in hypotheticals like that,” Wijenje said. 

District leaders say the first phase of the project includes all the special studios for the performing arts program. The second phase would have included classrooms, computers labs, and the administration office. 

The district says it will likely avoid another mail-in election for the time being.  

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