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Education

LCPS school bond approval won’t raise local taxes; mill levy question also on the ballot

Posted

Editor’s note: The Nov. 2 local election ballot contains two Las Cruces Public Schools questions: 1) the bond issue, and 2) the mill levy. Check the back of your ballot to ensure that you vote on both questions. The LCPS questions are on the ballot for all qualified voters who live in the school district. That means you can vote on the LCPS bond and mill levy along with your votes in city council, school board and soil and water conservation district elections, or you can vote in the school bond election and soil and water conservation district election even if your city council race and school board race are not on this year’s ballot.

Las Cruces Public Schools needs about $500 million to bring all its schools up to standard, but it’s only asking for $50 million in the 2021 bond election to avoid an increase in local property tax, LCPS Superintendent Ralph Ramos said.

LCPS’ 2021 bond issue addresses needs identified in the school district’s facilities maintenance plan, which it updates every four years, LCPS Community Outreach Liaison Brigette Zigelhofer said.

The bond question also includes $15 million to rebuild Columbia Elementary School. The school was closed in 2018, after mold was discovered. The new school building will be erected at the same location, 4555 Elks Drive.

LCPS Director of Construction Gloria Martinez said the school district is in the process of hiring a general contractor to do the Columbia Elementary demolition work, which she said could begin by this December. Martinez said she is also working on hiring an architect to design the new school, with the design likely to start in January.

Since the school’s closure, Columbia Elementary students have been attending classes at Centennial High School. The new Columbia Elementary building is expected to open in fall 2024, Ramos said.

Here are other items that will be paid for with 2021 bond money, if voters approve:

  • $11 million for new maintenance facilities at the LCPS operations annex on Tashiro Drive;
  • $1 million for Americans with Disabilities Act compliance districtwide;
  • $1.018 million for the design and construction of softball dugouts ($288,000) and to resurface and replace the existing track ($730,000) at the Field of Dreams;
  • $500,000 for a new LCPS solar project;
  • $3.3 million for enriched learning opportunities for LCPS students, including career and technical education and early childhood education;
  • $1.7 million for the rebuilding of an interior wall at Zia Middle School;
  • $5 million to remodel kitchens at Highland Elementary School and Lynn Middle School -- $2.5 million each;
  • $5.65 million in contingency funds and for land acquisition. The money will help pay for unforeseen expenses in bond projects, including price increases for materials, and to purchase land for future school district needs, which Ramos said could possibly include a new elementary school on the East Mesa;
  • $4.1 million for roof replacements at César Chávez ($2.1 million) and Hermosa Heights ($2 million) elementary schools;
  • $1.375 million for security fencing ($880,000), intercoms ($145,000) and safety doors ($350,000), including $80,000 each for fencing at César Chávez, Doña Ana, Sunrise, University Hills and Valley View elementary schools; $120,000 for fencing at Hermosa Heights, Hillrise, Mesilla and Mesilla Park elementaries; $32,000 each for intercoms at Mesilla and Mesilla Park elementaries; $73,000 for intercoms at Central Elementary; $8,000 for intercoms at Lynn Middle School; and $350,000 for safety doors at Mayfield High School.
  • $350,000 for a bus loop at Zia Middle School.

LCPS’ second yes-no question on the 2021 local elections ballot asks voters to approve the renewal of a 2-mill capital improvements levy that will provide funds to pay for maintenance, school equipment, playground improvements, classroom furnishings and other projects districtwide.

The mill levy, also known as SB (Senate Bill) 9, must be approved by voters every six years.

Visit www.studentsfirst.vote.

Gadsden Independent School District, which includes schools in Doña Ana and Otero counties, has a $38 million GO bond question on the Nov. 2 ballot. For more information, visit https://bit.ly/3iiiLh2. Find it on GISD’s Facebook page at GadsdenISD by scrolling down to “October 1 at 10:00 AM.” Also visit www.gisd.k12.nm.us.

Hatch Valley Public Schools, with schools in northern Doña Ana County, is seeking voter approval of a $1.8 million GO bond issue. Visit www.hatchschools.net and scroll down to the HVPS Bond Vote 2021 flyer.

Only qualified voters in each school district can vote on that school district’s bond questions.