SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Many school districts across the state are shelling out money on buildings they’ve abandoned. So one state lawmaker is trying to take those abandoned buildings off the districts’ hands to save them money. Supporters say some of the abandoned school buildings are like dead weight, costing districts thousands of dollars to keep around.
However, they don’t have the money to demolish them. “When a district determines a building has no longer any use, there’s no buyers for it, the district, the district is still responsible for insurance costs, vandalism and other things,” said Sen. Willliam Soules (D-Dona Ana County).
According to analysts, about a fourth of the state’s school districts have vacant buildings. Currently, districts have to match local funds in order to demo an unused school building and for those smaller, rural communities, that can be very costly. Senate Bill 43 would allow the Public School Capital Outlay Council to fully fund the demolition of abandoned buildings.
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So far, opposition against the bill hasn’t been heard but many are saying it would be a financial relief to get the building off the district’s books. “It’s hard for local districts to place priorities in demolishing those buildings that have outlived their use because usually, those funds raised will only pay for new buildings that are necessitated to bring online,” said Stan Rounds of the NM Coalition of Educational Leaders.
Analysts say within the past couple of years, only three school buildings have been demoed out of the 44 requests. If passed, this could cost up to $18 million. The bill passed the Senate floor on a 34-to-5 vote Monday afternoon. It now heads to the House. Sen. Soules says instead of districts putting money towards demoing these unused buildings, that money could instead go right into the classroom.