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News from 2023-2024

Posted: November 7, 2023

Astorga, Tome-Warito, and Benavidez Elected to APS School Board, Mill Levy Passes

New board members take office on Jan. 1.

Voters elected three new members to the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education and they greenlighted the mill levy that will generate millions of dollars for maintenance and other needs at APS schools as the election drew to a close on Tuesday evening.

With all 72 vote centers in Bernalillo County reporting, the mill levy passed by a 2-1 margin. Results are unofficial until the state canvassing board certifies them on Nov. 28.

“We are so grateful to voters for supporting the 2 mill levy for APS,” said Superintendent Scott Elder. “We will use the money to continue making our schools safer, to upgrade more heating and cooling units, to keep providing musical instruments to students, and for so much more.

“On behalf of our students and staff, I want to thank everyone who took the time to vote in this election,” he added.

School board races

Prevailing in the District 1 race was Janelle Astorga, who won 48.5 percent of the vote. Astorga, the co-director of Learning Alliance of New Mexico, has been a volunteer with community organizations that focus on youth rights, student and teacher voices, and social justice. She defeated Robert Trujillo and Verland Coker. Astorga will replace Yolanda Montoya-Cordova, who did not seek reelection.

In District 2, Ronalda Tome-Warito defeated incumbent Peggy Muller-Aragón by 255 votes. Adrian R. Nogales came in third in the race. Tome-Warito, an advocate for children with disabilities, won 42.3 percent of the vote. Muller-Aragón was running for a third term on the board.

And in District 4, Heather Benavidez defeated Stephen Cecco in a landslide. She secured 82.4 percent of the vote, defeating Stephen Cecco. Benavidez, the CEO of a disability advocacy nonprofit, will replace Barbara Petersen, who did not run for reelection.

The winners will begin their four-year terms on Jan. 1.

Superintendent Elder congratulated Astorga, Tome, and Benavidez for winning in their respective races.

“I look forward to working with them in the coming months as we continue with our efforts to improve outcomes for all our students,” he said.

Mill levy

Nearly 67 percent of voters supported the APS mill levy. The measure will generate an estimated $264.7 million – roughly $44 million a year – for security upgrades and maintenance over six years, starting in tax year 2025. Some of that money will go to charter schools.

The mill levy will be a continuation of a tax already in place, not a new one. It will continue a property tax of $2 per each $1,000 of net taxable value for property within the APS district. The tax rate will remain the same.

“I want to thank everyone at APS who helped get the word out about the importance of this mill levy, including Capital Master Plan Executive Director Kizito Wijenje, who spearheaded the effort, and the Fine Arts Department for the wonderful videos they produced showing how important this money is to our students,” Elder said.