Voters have overwhelmingly rejected Albuquerque Public Schools’ three ballot questions that would have brought in $900 million and raised property tax bills by about 5 percent.
The Albuquerque Journal reports that the defeat plunges the district’s capital master plan into uncertainty.
“The ballots have been counted, and the voters have made their wishes clear,” Superintendent Raquel Reedy said in a prepared statement. “The majority voted against a bond/mill levy package that would have paid to improve student safety, rebuild and repair our schools and refresh our technology and equipment.
The ballot proposals would have brought in $900 million to the district over the next six years. The district sought the funds to help carry out its full capital master plan.
About half the money would have gone toward the design and construction of 11 new projects and 23 ongoing projects. Building maintenance and technology improvements also were big tickets items in the proposal. About $20 million would have gone toward school security upgrades.
A change in state law last year requires special elections like the APS mill levy/bond election to be conducted exclusively by mail.
Officials had said that failure to pass the first question, which would primarily pay for maintenance, would devastate the maintenance efforts. And failure to pass the other two questions leaves the fate of the construction projects and other expenditures in the air.
Those against the ballot questions had argued that the school district should be more strategic and responsible with its budget. Supporters countered that the funding would be an investment in the community and its students.
This was the first special, mail-in election in Bernalillo County since changes in local election law called for a mail-in ballot. The clerk’s office sent out about 420,000 ballots.
More than 100,000 ballots were turned in, an estimated turnout of 28.7 percent. That’s a substantial increase from the 3 to 5 percent who have normally turned out for past school district elections, according to the Bernalillo County Clerk’s Office.