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APS Board of Education Sets Bond Question
Voters asked to consider $368 million for schools in Feb. 5 election.
November 16, 2012
Voters will be asked to consider a $368 million bond and mill levy package for Albuquerque Public Schools building and maintenance in an election on Feb. 5, 2013. The Board of Education unanimously approved the question to appear on the ballot at a Friday morning meeting.
The capital improvements package includes a $168 million mill levy and about $200 million in general obligation bonds to fund APS’ 2011-17 capital master plan. Most projects will be renovation and remodeling of older existing schools that include new classroom construction and infrastructure upgrades like drainage and site improvements.
Voter approval of the package will not raise taxes.
“We plan to continue to address the needs of some of our older schools that have been waiting for upgrades as well as working with six charter schools that have chosen to be part of the capital master plan.” Board of Education President Paula Maes said. “We’ve accomplished a lot, but more is needed to restore the old and maintain what we’ve done.”
If approved, funding would go into construction and maintenance for classrooms and other educational facilities at numerous sites. The average age of an APS school building is about 45 years.
“Safe, healthy learning environments are critical for the continued success of APS students, and bond funds will help the district meet those needs,” APS Superintendent Winston Brooks said. “We’re going to use taxpayer funds to renovate, restore and renew our facilities.”
Construction during the last bond cycle gave a huge boost to the Albuquerque economy. It is estimated that nearly 70 percent of commercial construction in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County is school related.
Some key projects include the completion of rebuilding of Del Norte and Sandia high schools, constructing a new K-8 school on the Southwest Mesa, additions at Rio Grande and West Mesa high schools and rebuilding Mountain View Elementary.
Technology upgrades for classrooms also are included. About $30 million would go toward educational technology notes sold to provide the funding for networks and computers.
The bond portion of the request was moved up one year in order to consolidate with the Feb. 5 election that also includes four school board seat contests. Consolidating the elections will save taxpayers some $300,000.
APS has already been able to accelerate the timetable of 12 projects totaling $40 million by about one year.
Additionally, APS has dedicated more than $34 million exclusively toward the design and construction of charter schools in the district over the next four years. That’s more than any authorizer in New Mexico.
APS is currently housing six charter schools in district-owned buildings and has spent more than $14 million for the acquisition and refurbishment of these facilities.