SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) – Local governments across New Mexico are seeking to renew property taxes to pay for school buildings, computers, and air ventilation systems even as school districts are slated to receive $900 million in federal pandemic aid.
Ventilation upgrades are on virtually all lists after state authorities mandated upgraded systems better able to pull tiny virus particles out of the air. They often require new machinery.
School districts received around $900 million in additional federal funding this year aimed at offsetting the costs of reshaping education infrastructure in response to the virus.
Some of the funds were used to replace aging air ventilation systems. Many districts offered a laptop to each student for the first time, paid bonuses to staff working despite the risk of COVID-19, as well as purchased hand sanitizer, signage, and face masks.
Balloting is underway at early voting centers, county clerks’ offices and by absentee ballots that can be mailed or dropped off by hand. Election Day is Nov. 2.
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Albuquerque is asking voters for $630 million, with classroom technology upgrades accounting for the largest proposed spending category of around $110 million. Another $15 million would pay for air ventilation improvements. That’s after $30 million budgeted from federal pandemic aid, district spokeswoman Monica Armenta said.