ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Election Day is about a month away, Albuquerque Public Schools is asking voters to approve $630 million over the next six years, something the district says it needs. This, after APS, has had to deal with bond issues being voted down in the past. The biggest district is looking to voters to build and update its buildings and technology.
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“We’ve got 142 schools, there’s almost 50 charter schools also in the APS attendance area…40% of the schools are 50 years or older,” said Kizito Wijenji, executive director of APS’ Capital Master Plans.
On the November ballot, APS has two questions. On question is for a bond of $200 million. The second is to renew the 2016 mill levy tax rate, which would continue the existing property tax rate going to APS, giving the district $430 million over six years.
“So that we can provide the right facilities and the right equipment for our educational endeavors,” said Wijenji.
In that mill levy, the property tax levy is $.838 per each $1,000 of net taxable value for residential properties. It is $.4.344 per each $1,000 of net taxable value for non-residential properties.
He said the district has a $700 billion total need in capital projects but is working with what it has to address priority projects. Projects are prioritized based on a number of factors including code, instructional need, and equity.
The bond package money will include projects like building a gym wing at Eldorado High School, a new cafeteria and playground at Corrales Elementary, and improving technology, security, cooling and ADA compliance districtwide.
“If this passes, your tax rate stays the same. If it fails, obviously yes, the tax rate may eventually go down. But your schools, your students, your teachers, your neighborhoods won’t have the capital needs for buildings, repair, equipment, IT that they need,” Wijenji said.
Back in February 2019, voters rejected two tax measures and a bond that would have brought in about $900 million. In November of that year, voters approved a measure giving the district about $300 million. Wijenji called the 2021 bond package funding ‘extremely vital.’ Four of the seven spots on the APS school board are also on the ballot.