By MORRIE PONGRATZ
Former departmental councilor
Former school board member
I am writing to urge our citizens to vote “For” the Public School Buildings Act in the next referendum. Identical questions on factory royalties were approved by our constituents in 2011 and 2016. The approval will NOT increase property tax rates.
One of the frustrations during my years on the school board was that school district operating funds are allocated by the state on a per student basis, regardless of the local cost of living. Teachers are paid from the operating fund.
So, we cannot vote to increase funding for teacher compensation, but your continued support for the referendum on public school buildings means vital major maintenance, activity buses, ADA compliance, sports equipment and supplies. (including faulty dashboards), musical instruments and district computer hardware and network equipment do not necessarily have to come from the operating fund.
I believe that the quality of our schools, the health of the laboratory and the heritage value of my home are linked (the DOE $ 8 million attests to this). Impeding the lab’s ability to recruit and retain the best and the brightest can cost me far more in value than the dollar a day I pay for tax!
And, oh by the way, according to data from the 2010 Census Bureau, Los Alamos ranked 16th in the state for the percentage of school funds coming from the federal government, tied with the Pojoaque School District at 25.5% of our funds from the federal government. I was surprised to see that we receive a smaller percentage of our money from the federal government than the neighboring districts of Jemez Valley, Bernalillo and Las Vegas West.
This factory tax has been the primary source of funding for all student maintenance and technology improvement projects throughout the district for almost 20 years. Voting by mail and in person begins today, October 5. Election day is Tuesday, November 2. Again, voting in favor of the referendum will NOT increase property tax rates. Please vote “FOR”.