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Los Alamos School Bond Election Will Fund Remodeling Of White Rock Schools If Passed By Voters

on August 15, 2019 - 8:49am
Los Alamos School Board President Ellen Ben-Naim updates the Board on the upcoming school bond election during Tuesday's School Board Meeting. Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/
Bonnie J. Gordon
Los Alamos Daily Post

During the summer, the Los Alamos School Board passed a motion to go forward with a School Bond Election on Nov. 5, the day of the election for School Board and the UNM-Los Alamos Advisory Board.

According to School Board President Ellen Ben-Naim, cost was an important reason. The district will not have to pay for a Special Election in the spring. Ben-Naim updated the Board on the bond election at the Aug. 13 School Board Meeting.

The early date also will give the School District an opportunity to get going on projects at once.

“If it passes, it will give us time to jump right in when it’s time to sell the bonds,” Ben-Naim said.

Another reason to go with an early date is the diminishing amount the state will match for school remodels, she said. Every year, the amount of possible matching funds will decrease according to a formula put forward by the New Mexico Public Education Department. The amount will decrease to a low point of 94 percent local funding and 6 percent in state matching funds in FY 2024.

“The District has a great track record on rebuilding and refurbishing our schools,” Ben-Naim said. “Now it’s White Rock’s turn.”

Chamisa and Pinon elementary Schools are the only schools in the District that have not been remodeled or undergoing a remodel.

Ben-Naim gave an update on current building projects. Barranca Elementary will be completely renovated by March 2020. The project is well underway, with grades one through six moving into their classrooms on the first day of school.

“The renovations going on at Mountain School will mean it will last another 12 to 15 years,” Ben-Naim said.

Construction on the new Sullivan Field field house will begin in November of this year, she said.

Ben-Naim stressed that if the bond issue passes, taxes will not increase.

“The 2017 bond election was $13 million and this one is for $20 million, however property values have increased, and Los Alamos now has a higher residency, so an individual will not see an increase,” she said.

The School District does not take a position on the bond issue vote. It does provide information, but isn’t urging voters to support or reject the bond issue.

Early voting begins Oct. 8 and voting ends Nov. 5. This is a walk-in election, not a mail in ballot election. In addition to the bond issue, those in Los Alamos will be voting for new school board members. (The two White Rock representatives are not up for election this cycle.) The town votes for UNM-LA Advisory board as a whole, not by districts.

When asked if voters in Los Alamos proper would support a bond to remodel the White Rock schools, Ben-Naim said she thinks they will.

“By and large, this is a community that supports education county-wide,” she said.