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Mayor, APS Pitch Renovation Funding to Voters

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Mayor Richard J. Berry, Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent Winston Brooks and several builders’ associations made a pitch to voters Tuesday, urging support for two ballot questions worth $368 million in funding for school renovation and construction.

Berry emphasized the economic benefits of the funding.

“This is something we can do as citizens of Albuquerque to put people to work, particularly in the construction industry, which has been the one sector of our local economy that has really, really suffered, I think the longest,” Berry said.

How to vote
Early voting for the school board and funding election is under way and continues through Friday. Early voting is available at APS headquarters on Uptown NE, the Bernalillo County Annex on Tijeras NW, Coors Plaza at 3200 Coors NW, CNM on Basehart Road SE and Rio Rancho City Hall on Civic Center Circle. Early voting operates Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Election Day is Feb. 5, and 56 voting centers will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Any voter can vote at any center. Visit www.bernco.gov/clerk to see a full list of voting locations.

Election day is Tuesday, and early voting continues through Friday. In addition to the funding questions, four school board seats are up for grabs. Three of those races are contested. So far, 912 people have voted early, and another 309 have returned absentee ballots, according to the Bernalillo County clerk.

The funding is broken up into two questions: One would authorize APS to sell $200 million worth of bonds, and the other $168 million would be levied in direct property tax revenues.

If the funding questions pass, taxes will remain at their current levels. If the questions fail, annual property taxes on a home worth $150,000 would decrease by about $105.

The news conference was held at Dolores Gonzales Elementary School, which is set to receive additional classrooms and other renovations worth about $4.9 million if the bond passes. The ballot questions also would fund renovations at Rio Grande and West Mesa high schools, as well as further progress on the rebuild of Sandia High. Officials said the theme of this funding cycle will be refurbishing and maintaining older schools, rather than building new ones.

“This time we’re really going to come back and look at some of our older schools that were built in the ’50s and ’60s,” Brooks said.

He emphasized the funding also will benefit charter schools, and the district has committed about $34 million over the next four years to building new charter school facilities.

“They are a part of our capital master plan,” Brooks said. “Examples of that are South Valley Academy, Montessori of the Rio Grande, Robert F. Kennedy, and we have committed more capital funds than any other charter-authorizing entity – the state, school districts, anybody.”

Also supporting the bond questions are: the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, the Albuquerque Teachers Federation, the Association of General Contractors, the Albuquerque chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the University Heights Association, and the Home Builders Association of Central New Mexico.
— This article appeared on page C2 of the Albuquerque Journal

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