First, I’d like to thank everyone who voted in the 2019 APS Bond/Mill Levy Election. Thank you for being informed and taking time to participate in the electoral process. You exercised your right to vote when so many people didn’t. Your vote matters. The more voters we hear from, the better, because we now know what our community’s prevailing opinion is. Hearing from 30 percent of the electorate is better than the 3 percent normally participating in APS elections. Increased participation in this election should be applauded and we, as a board, should take note.
I’m sure you’ve heard people stating our voters were misinformed, uninformed, lacked knowledge or awareness, and that the community was misled or uneducated on the ballot questions. Whomever said this by definition called you ignorant. I beg to differ. I don’t believe that to be true; you exercised your American duty to vote, and that’s not ignorant. Punitive comments about misinformed, uneducated voters are disrespectful and have no place on the APS Board of Education or in any APS forum or setting. In fact, they highlight that APS took the electorate for granted.
On Election Day, the community voted to protect their hard-earned money, ensured their family and friends already living paycheck to paycheck wouldn’t be further burdened, and protected renters and consumers from bearing the cost of increased property taxes. I’m not surprised at the rebuke laid bare in the results. It’s clear voters didn’t want to see yet another increase in taxes. They’ve had enough, as both the city and county have raised taxes the past few years, on top of our Legislature discussing more tax increases as part of its so-called overhaul of the tax code. Last Tuesday, voters said NO more, with 70 percent of the electorate in my district voting no. We cannot ignore N.M. struggles economically, and perhaps our residents have no more to give when they believe the return on investment isn’t up to par. Clearly, the community wants APS to budget accordingly, wants us to right-size our district and operations and wants accountability from school leaders. And it’s correct, the taxpayers deserve an accountable, transparent and forthright district.
The majority of voters I spoke with emphasized their “no” vote indicated they want APS laser-focused on every child’s success and not so focused on increasing budgets. These voters are for prioritizing students over unions, students over the board, students over the superintendent and importantly, students over educational profiteers.
It’s time the board and APS administration seriously look into why this measure failed. Voters asked why are 70 percent of students not reading at grade level, 80 percent not performing math at grade level and 30 percent not graduating? Why isn’t APS promoting positive changes that encourage and challenge its students? Voters demand we do better by these students, now and in the future.
I assure all parents, concerned citizens and most importantly our students, there are resources at APS. Our district will continue collecting its fair share of property tax obligated under statute. I concede we may have to tighten our belts as we figure how to move forward, but hope is never lost. This is an opportunity for APS to redirect resources to benefit our most important constituent, the students whose success should be our sole focus. We can save 30 percent on needed construction by doing away with Little Davis Bacon, another 1 percent by eliminating LEED certification, sell property too small to build on and buildings at minimum capacity and stop adding square footage when APS enrollment continues to decline.
Thank you taxpayers for financing our $1.34 billion dollar budget, despite the demagoguery you often hear from the educational profiteers who use our children for their own ends. I appreciate the voters, the concerns shared and your unending belief in our wonderful students. Let’s hope the APS Board and administration listens and learns as we move forward. I certainly will.