Today the Journal Editorial Board continues its endorsements in the Nov. 2 consolidated municipal election with a resounding “yes” for Albuquerque Public Schools’ general obligation bond and mill levy proposals.
Members of the board spent an hour with the superintendent and administrators discussing the proposals in depth.
The measures will bring $630 million into the district for hardscape infrastructure sorely needed in schools that are, on average, 50 years old. The GO bond totals $200 million over the next six years, the mill levy $330 million, and they continue the current tax rate, so taxes will not increase if they are approved.
And while property taxes could go down if the measures fail, the pandemic revealed how much we truly need in-person school, and that means ensuring our students have classrooms and common areas with working heating and cooling systems, roofs that don’t leak, security that keeps them and employees safe and options with charter schools.
Throwing in utility upgrades that save on bills and lower the district’s effects on the environment make perfect sense as well. Know that all of APS’ ongoing planning, design and construction accounts for 70% of commercial construction in the metro area, according to APS Board of Education President David Peercy, keeping many of our families, friends and neighbors employed as we improve our kids’ schools.
While the Editorial Board has been critical of many APS administration decisions, we are united with district leaders in wanting high-quality education for our students – and that includes high-quality schools. And so it is essential to address the argument that the district is getting hundreds of millions in federal relief dollars and so does not need this revenue stream; that rationale ignores that much of the federal money is required to go to mitigate the learning loss from the pandemic (as well as a small portion to infrastructure dealing with public safety, such as ventilation upgrades). It also ignores that the district has a $7 billion backlog of infrastructure needs that will only continue to get more pressing as time goes on.
To the argument that enrollment is down and so these projects are not needed, the administration emphasized the loss is spread across the district, not at a few schools; that some sites could indeed be repurposed for charter or other uses; and that the district is right-sizing buildings as it rebuilds and remodels. Bottom line: The more than 80,000 students in the district still deserve decent classrooms and up-to-date materials.
So let’s look at what APS students and employees will get for $630 million. A complete list with costs for individual projects is at aps.edu.
NEW SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION
Arroyo del Oso ($27 million) and Zia ($18.4 million) elementaries are scheduled for replacement construction, as are the first of three phases to rebuild Harrison ($30.3 million) and Van Buren ($30.3 million) middle schools and the first two of five phases to rebuild Eldorado High ($33.6 million, the PE/gym wing).
NEW CLASSROOM WING CONSTRUCTION
Barcelona ($10.7 million), Hubert Humphrey ($21.9 million), La Mesa ($16.6 million), M.A. Binford ($9.5 million), Sierra Vista ($13 million), Valle Vista ($11.5 million) and Whittier ($13.6 million) elementaries, McKinley ($14.7 million), Taylor ($14.8 million) and Truman ($18.6 million) middle and Highland High ($27.9 million) are scheduled for classroom block construction.
CLASSROOM ADDITION CONSTRUCTION
Desert Ridge Middle ($13.4 million) is scheduled for a classroom addition, and Corrales Elementary ($6.3 million) for the first phase of a renovation/refurbishment project that also will include a new gym, cafeteria and playgrounds.
Online eAcademy, $1.5 million.
Technology, $110 million.
Charter schools, $68.6 million.
Construction contingencies/portable classrooms/property acquisition, $27.9 million.
School security and safety, $12.5 million.
Roofing, $8 million.
Heating/ventilation/cooling, $15 million.
General school upgrades and special projects, $13.5 million.
Abatement and site utilities, $9.5 million.
ADA compliance and site circulation safety, $4.4 million.
Water/energy conservation and artificial turf, $8.7 million.
CABQ Physical Education Aquatic Project (pool) serving La Cueva and Eldorado clusters, $2 million.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.