This Tuesday, Feb. 7, residents of the Santa Fe Public Schools district will vote on whether to continue to offer approximately $12.7 million in annual, property tax-based funding for the district.
Without further ado, here's what you need to know.
What will it cost me?
- The 2-mill levy is essentially a
- $2 tax on every $2,000 in assessed property value
- . If your home is assessed at $100,000 (meaning its market value is $300,000), you'll be paying $200 a year. (To find out your current assessed value, visit the
- Santa Fe County Assessor's information center
- and type in your address.)
- The current vote is about whether to renew the existing levy, not increase it. Got a $300,000 house? You're already paying that $200 a year, so
- your tax bill won't change
- if the levy is approved.
What does it mean for Santa Fe Public Schools?
- $12.7 million per year
- for the next six years
- This money can be used only for the following purposes (via
- 1. Erecting, remodeling, making additions to, providing equipment for, or furnishing public
- school buildings;
- 2. Purchasing or improving public school grounds;
- 3. Maintenance of public school buildings or public school grounds, including expenditures
- for technical training and certification for maintenance and facilities management
- personnel, but excluding salary expenses of school district employees;
- 4. Purchasing activity vehicles for transporting students to extracurricular activities; and
- 5. Purchasing computer software and hardware for student use in public school classrooms.
- Within those parameters, SFPS Superintendent Bobbie Gutierrez has said she hopes to spend the money on
- classroom technology
- (like interactive chalkboards, document cameras, overhead projectors and computers) and
- better turf
- (read: less thirsty, more enviro-friendly) for school playing fields.
Should I vote yes or no?
- Think of the children:
- Gutierrez has threatened that students will suffer if the measure is not approved. "It would be a shame, given how harmful to children it would be, for it not to pass," Gutierrez
- told the Albuquerque Journal.
- Think of the administrators:
- Gutierrez has presided over a less-than-stellar era in the district's history, especially when it comes to funding for school construction. In the specific case of Agua Fria Elementary, a lucrative contract with an Albuquerque-based architect has led to exorbitant prices for dubiously justified improvements, including a
- controversial proposal to raze Agua Fria
- and build a new school from scratch.
- Think of the wild card:
- In December 2010, New Mexico Attorney General Gary King ruled on a question about a 2008 bond issue: Can the district administration use bond funds to pay for things voters didn't specifically approve when they voted for the bond? King said yes--a move state Sen. Phil Griego, D-Los Alamos, at the time
- described as "dangerous precedent."
- In a way, King's ruling makes sense: Things change, and emergencies do arise. But Griego is also right: Who's to say we won't be funding a boondoggle that does little to help kids learn?
Where do I go?
- Check your voter registration card for your precinct, then consult the
- county's precinct list
- to find your appropriate polling place. VOTE!