BY MORRIE PONGRATZ
Former County Council Member
Former School Board Member
I am writing to urge our citizens to vote “For” the Public School Buildings Act in the upcoming referendum. Identical mill levy questions were approved by our voters in 2011 and in 2016. Approval will NOT increase property tax rates.
One of the frustrations during my years on the school board was that school district operational funds are allocated by the state on a per-pupil basis, regardless of local cost-of-living. Teachers are paid from the operational fund. So, we cannot vote to increase the funding for teacher’s pay, but your continuing support of the Public School Buildings referendum means that vital major maintenance, activity buses, ADA compliance, athletic supplies and equipment (including malfunctioning scoreboards), music instruments, and district computer hardware and network equipment need not come from the operational fund.
I believe that the quality of our schools, the health of the laboratory, and the asset value of my house are linked (the DOE $8 million attests to this). Hampering the lab’s ability to recruit and retain the best and the brightest can cost me way more in house value than the dollar a day I pay for the levy! And, oh by the way, according to 2010 Census Bureau data, Los Alamos ranked 16th in the state in the percentage of school funds coming from the federal government, tied with the Pojoaque school district at 25.5 % of our funds coming from the feds. I was surprised to see that we get a smaller percentage of our money from the feds than nearby districts Jemez Valley, Bernalillo and Las Vegas West.
This mill levy has been the primary funding source for all student technology and major maintenance improvement projects throughout the district for nearly 20 years. Absentee and in person voting begin on Tuesday, October 5. Election Day is Tuesday, November 2. Again, voting in favor of the referendum will NOT increase property tax rates. Please vote “FOR”.