Please vote, Santa Fe! With voting underway on the general obligation bond and mill levy, the Santa Fe Public Schools, including staff, students and families, thanks you for your support.

You can impact students’ futures through funding smart, adaptable schools, improving all district facilities and expanding energy and water conservation, solar energy and outdoor classrooms.

Importantly, you can help ensure air quality in our schools to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Under the ballot measures, $100 million in bond funding and $9 million annually in mill levy funding will be renewed and your taxes will not increase, allowing us to build futures for more than four years and care for our facilities.

Funding priorities were set by the Community Review Committee and Santa Fe Board of Education after the district reviewed several million square feet of buildings on how well each site is supporting our educational programs. Buildings on average are 43 years old, so meeting all needs carries a large price tag. By targeting funds where students need them the most, we can continue building their futures.

Two schools, Early College Opportunities High School (or ECO), located near Santa Fe High School, and Mandela International Magnet School, on Agua Fría Street, both lottery schools open to all in the community, are targeted for major renovations. ECO’s facility has been deemed borderline and Mandela is housed in a site that’s inadequate to fulfill its mission as an International Baccalaureate school. Funding from the bond will provide $22.5 million to renovate Mandela and $14.5 million to renovate ECO.

Mandela and ECO provide students with choices. ECO immerses students in grades 9-12 in career paths that prepare them for high-skill, high-wage jobs. Mandela, Santa Fe’s only equal-access public IB school, develops young people in grades 7-12 to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

Ortiz Middle School, on South Meadows Road and the district’s only middle school serving grades 6-8, will be brought on par with Milagro Middle School. Milagro’s new facility on Llano Street, completed in 2019 with voter support, was built as a school home for generations of students. The athletic field at Sweeney Elementary School, on Airport Road, is a priority under the general obligation bond, while Capital High School will receive a new roof.

We are excited to include the second phase of improvements at Santa Fe High School, which, with a completely transformed administration and student services buildings, increasingly has a consolidated campus, a long-sought priority. The second phase of construction will provide a new commons, drop-off area and breezeway to make the school a secure site.

In addition, the Academy for Technology and the Classics, the district’s authorized charter school, will receive $400,000 for needed security and safety. All charters benefit from the mill levy as they receive a direct share proportionate to their enrollment.

Santa Fe Public Schools’ Sustainability Program, a shining example of innovative and creative thinking, will provide more solar energy and water conservation and help make campuses outdoor classrooms, all part of the program’s goal to balance limited natural and fiscal resources over the long term. More than $2.5 million is targeted for creating district-wide outdoor learning spaces and improving playgrounds.

School Board President Kate Noble provided an apt summary when she said that the GO bond and mill levy recommendations address commitments, consistency through time and efforts to adapt and evolve.

Equity is central to this election, as every student and building will benefit.

Hilario “Larry” Chavez is superintendent of Santa Fe Public Schools.

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