Letter to the Editor: LAPS Bond Won’t Increase Property Taxes

Former school board member Ken Johnson points to dry rot at Aspen Elementary School. Courtesy photo
By Morrie Pongratz
Former School Board Member
Former County Councilor

In January we have an opportunity to make Los Alamos more inviting to the young families who are essential to the future of LANL (and Los Alamos.)

On May 10, 2007, I attended the first meeting of the Los Alamos Public Schools (LAPS) Facility Planning Committee (FPC.) The school board had asked me, Larry Goen, Al Moelenback, Stan Primak and Grant Stewart to serve with two board members and LAPS staff with the goal of developing “a long-range facility asset management program aligned with the district’s fundamental mission.” 

We were assisted by Bob Robie, a registered architect from the firm, Architectural Research Consultants (ARC.)

ARC is a unique architectural consulting firm specializing in the areas of planning, architectural programming, facility evaluation and architectural research. We by evaluating the condition of our schools and then recommending remodeling or rebuilding depending on the life cycle cost. We toured all the schools and met with LAPS facilities staff. 

In our 20-year plan to address needs at all schools our highest priorities were to renovate the high school and middle school, to replace Aspen Elementary School and to enhance major maintenance at the other schools. 

Working with the LAPS bond counsel, RBC Dain Rauscher, we recommended going to the voters for approval to fund the plan. The plan is reasonable in size and cost, and reasonable in terms of meeting the academic needs of our students.  

The plan included a committed timeline with logic-driven events for the facilities. The voters approved our recommendation and today we see a wonderfully remodeled high school and significant changes underway at the middle school. 

But folks, we’re not done yet. 

We voters need to approve funding for the next phase of the master plan. Aspen school was built as a temporary facility in 1951 (yes, even back then folks were concerned about the future of Los Alamos!) 

Aspen has Masonite interior walls and wood exterior walls that are suffering from dry rot that cannot be repaired with major maintenance.

While replacing Aspen is the highest priority remaining project, over a third of the bond proceeds will be dedicated to improvements at other facilities!

The mail-out ballot election scheduled for January will not increase our property taxes and will keep Los Alamos on schedule to “Building better schools … Building brighter futures.”


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