Students canvassing for proposed APS tax hike sparks controversy

News

Albuquerque students going door-to-door is causing a stir around town. They’re handing out flyers about the special election to raise property taxes to benefit Albuquerque Public Schools and some people think it’s not okay.

While the district says students just want to support their schools, others believe it’s an unethical way to get people to say ‘yes’ to a tax hike.

“We have student volunteers and neighborhood volunteers canvassing to put information out about the very important capital elections,” explained Kizito Wijenje, APS capital master plan executive director.

The proposal is to raise property tax by 4.7 percent to pay for APS construction projects and technology.

The canvassing effort is being led by Wijenje. He says students from schools across the district have set a goal of placing door hangers on thousands of homes.

“The intention is to canvas at least 20,000 residents,” Wijenje said.

He says students are making their case for why people should say ‘Yes.’ It’s a big effort that former state legislator Delano Garcia says should be stopped and reviewed.

“Getting involved in politics and passing out this literature, it is electioneering,” Garcia said. “Using students for electioneering is not ethical.”

Garcia says he’s not against better learning institutions and technology for our kids, but he does believe they are being used as pawns to promote something they may not understand.

“Every time a student uses those t-shirts that is electioneering,” Garcia said.

APS says the district does pay for the t-shirts and flyers used during canvassing.

However, it says students simply volunteer their time and it’s up to the schools on whether extra credit is given to students who participate.

As for how much the school district dished out on the shirts and flyers is still unknown, but we do know that hundreds of students have participated in the campaign this month.

The district says there are no more canvass events planned. The mail-in ballots are due February 5.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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