FARMINGTON — Voters on Tuesday will decide whether to approve a $20 million bond for the Central Consolidated School District that would fund several projects, including construction of a new Kirtland elementary school.
The bond would also fund renovations at Kirtland, Shiprock and Newcomb high schools. It would also cover the design and construction of a new Kirtland elementary school near the campuses of Grace B. Wilson and Ruth N. Bond elementary schools.
CCSD wants to merge both schools and incorporate the Ruth N. Bond gymnasium into the new building. The new school would house students in kindergarten through sixth grade.
Both elementary schools are among the 100 state schools most in need of repairs, according to the New Mexico Condition Index. The list, which is managed by the New Mexico Public Schools Facilities Authority, lists Grace B. Wilson at No. 12 and Ruth N. Bond at No. 34.
If the bond passes, the current annual tax rate for the bond would remain at $6.828 per $1,000 net taxable value of a home. It would not result in a tax increase.
For a home valued at $150,000, $50,000 would be taxable, creating an yearly payment of $241.40 for a homeowner.
Kirtland homeowner Deanna Thompson said in an email that she has concerns about how CCSD manages its money.
"They can't manage the money they have now. Why would I want my taxes raised, so they can mismanage that, too?" Thompson said.
She also expressed concerns about how residents on Navajo Nation land within the school district do not contribute to the bond payments.
"If everyone in the school district had to pay property tax, the cost would be distributed evenly and possibly be a little more tolerable," Thompson said. "There comes a point when you have to say, 'Is this fair for everyone?'"
CCSD spokesman James Preminger said that because the Navajo Nation is federal trust land, the federal government provides impact aid to the school district.
"The federal impact aid makes up the difference for the lack of property tax on the reservation," Preminger said.
The school district's federal impact aid for the 2012-2013 school year was about $19 million.
Preminger said the district spends the funds on expenses such as teacher salaries, construction and purchasing computers.
Both Grace B. Wilson and Ruth N. Bond elementary schools have cracks in the floors and walls due to shifting foundations and construction styles with cement ceilings. Ruth N. Bond has had four additions built since opening in 1969, and it currently uses six portable classrooms to house additional students. No additions have been added to Grace B. Wilson since it opened in 1984.
If voters pass the bond, the school district plans to hold public meetings before starting design work. The meetings, recommended by the New Mexico Public Schools Facilities Authority, will allow the community to share input on combining both schools.
Upper Fruitland resident Lynlaria Dixon said she believes the bond will help schools that needs repairs and reconstruction. Plus, she added, she likes the current building layout of Grace B. Wilson.
"Every building has (its) own defects," Dixon said.