Morris Pongratz. Photo by Maire O’Neill
During my first term on the school board we formed a committee to assess the condition of the Los Alamos Public Schools properties. The Facilities Strategic Planning committee consisted of local and Los Alamos National Laboratory experts including Steve Girrens, Larry Goen and Grant Stewart, among others. They recommended seeking bond funds to upgrade school properties. Subsequent voter approval of this suggestion led to improvements at Los Alamos High School, Los Alamos Middle School, Aspen and Barranca schools. Promises made, promises kept!
Now it is White Rock’s turn, time to improve the White Rock schools! That’s what the current bond question is all about. The specific improvements to the White Rock schools will follow from discussions between the community, the teachers, the architect and the State’s Public Schools Capital Outlay Council (PSCOC). I was part of those discussions for the Aspen school project. Our committee met regularly with the architect and a representative of the state. We developed Educational Specifications for the improvements by compromising between the large classrooms wanted by the teachers, the Aspen footprint, and the state’s limitations. The State of New Mexico contributed nearly $6M to the project; we could not have succeeded without their money.
The School Board voted to put the bond question to the voters this fall for a couple reasons. First, LAPS does not have to pay the full cost of the election because the state has mandated that school board and UNMLA elections occur this fall. Second, the state match for school construction projects which is 39% for FY20 drops to only 6% by FY24! Passage of this bond question does not increase the property tax rate. I have personally lobbied the County Council to lower the county’s portion of property taxes; I’ll do it again.
Early voting begins on Tuesday, Oct. 8. Voting at the polls is on Tuesday, Nov. 5. Please vote for the bond and sustain our momentum in improving our schools!