Aztec Municipal School District Superintendent Kirk Carpenter, reacting to voters' February rejection of a mill levy that would have raised $1.8 million for the district's schools, said he was "disheartened."

And, wasting no time, the Aztec Board of Education last week approved a new election for May 7 in hopes of a different outcome.

A mill levy is a property tax and it appeared voters were not in the mood to approve any type of financial burden, even to support education for the district's children. Some of the reaction since the election has indicated that property owners do not feel they should have to be the only ones to ante up.

It could be argued that was a short-sighted choice, but there is a more troubling issue.

Slightly more than 6 percent, 684 of the district's 11,087 registered voters, bothered to cast a ballot in February.

And 411 "no" votes were responsible for a decision affecting the future of the district's approximately 3,000 students.

From those numbers, we can assume that parents of those students stayed home in droves. We would like to know why.

Another issue that likely turned voters against the mill levy was a slight increase in the amount Ð about 11 cents from $1.886 per $1,000 of net taxable property value to $2.

The proposal for a new election approved last week would restore the mill levy without the increase.

Carpenter said the tax has been in place since the 1930s, and the district relies on that funding. Specifically, it pays for building maintenance and campus technology.

Wayne Farmer, who was attending his last meeting as a board member, explained it this way: "You skip your roofing projects, you have rotted walls and rotted floors. It's just a snowball effect. Without having mill money, it's like having a car and not changing the oil."

We'll leave it up to voters to determine whether property owners should assume this particular tax burden. But we hope more than 6 percent of them show up at the polls in May.