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?
What does it mean for Santa Fe Public Schools?
- 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.
Should I vote yes or no?
- $12.7 million per year for the next six years
- This money can be used only for the following purposes (via NMPED):
1. Erecting, remodeling, making additions to, providing equipment for, or furnishing public
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.
Where do I go?
- 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?
- Check your voter registration card for your precinct, then consult the county's precinct list to find your appropriate polling place. VOTE!