Steinhaus: ‘No Tax Rate Increase’ Bond Election For Our Schools

By Dr. Kurt Steinhaus
Los Alamos Public Schools
Here are five reasons to vote “YES” on November 5th to renew our school bonds: no tax increase – it is all about the students, improved safety and learning spaces are needed, the proposal is fiscally responsible, Los Alamos schools have strong community support, and the School Board has kept their promises to voters.
1. No increase in tax rates, it is all about the students – voter approval of the school bond means that property tax rates will remain the same in Los Alamos – no tax increase.  Let’s support our children and help them build brighter futures by building better schools.  We can help with a vote of “yes” for the bond that will fund infrastructure improvements to enrich academics, music, clubs, and sports, to name a few.
2. Needed for learning and safety – Chamisa and Pinon Elementary school buildings are over 50 years old. Research has shown that modern classrooms have a positive impact on student well being, improved learning, and staff well-being and effectiveness. The remodeled buildings will also be designed to increase student and staff safety with a single entrance, access control, and improved security technology.
3. Fiscally Responsible – the proposal for $20 million is prudent and fiscally responsible. The cost of maintenance grows every year and has reached the point that it is more cost effective to work with the community to design a major remodel than continue the increasing cost of repairing old buildings. In addition, holding the LAPS election on November 5th saves over $20,000 because the schools do not have to pay for a special election.  More modern school facilities can also help improve property values for businesses and home owners.
4. Strong Community Support – the last three bond elections in Los Alamos have resulted in the community standing squarely behind our kids. The New Mexico funding formula for public schools is for teacher salaries and ongoing operations. It does not cover the cost of renovation or replacement of school facilities. Funds to improve facilities must come with local bonds and state matching funds from the Public School Capital Outlay Council. Local support for the bond is essential in requesting state matching funds.  
5. Promises Made, Promises Kept – Because of Los Alamos voters, the School Board has been able to build and remodel the High School (January 2012), the Middle School (October 2013) and Aspen Elementary (October 2014). Barranca Mesa Elementary School and Mountain Elementary School are in the middle of major facility improvements. Promises made and promises kept!
What does the community gain from voting “yes”? We gain quality facilities for teaching and learning in Los Alamos. We gain a younger generation who one day will appreciate the education they received in Los Alamos and will give back to those who made a difference in their lives. We save long-term maintenance costs.
Let’s help build proper facilities so that teachers can teach, students can learn, and parents and community members can be proud that they helped to make it happen. Please join me in voting “yes.” Early voting begins Oct. 8 and voting ends Nov. 5.
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