School bond election set for Tuesday

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ Staff Writer

The Arts Academy at Bella Vista is in desperate need for more classrooms, according to Principal Shelly Norris.

More than 400 students are packed in cramped rooms, and some attend class in portable classrooms.

“We’re really packed in tight. The biggest priority is additional classrooms,” Norris said.

And like most school buildings in the Clovis School District, the elementary school’s roof needs attention, Norris said.

The Arts Academy’s situation has placed it in the top five schools of the New Mexico Public Schools Facilities Authority’s list of schools eligible for matching funds from the state.

But whether the school qualifies for those funds to build new classrooms and repair roofs depends on how Clovis voters decide Tuesday.

Registered voters will decide in the school bond election if they want to continue to support Clovis Schools with a general obligation bond for four more years.

About 27 percent of property taxes Clovis residents pay go to Clovis Schools. The property tax rate for the Clovis School district in 2007 was 6.611 mils, according to the County Tax Assessor’s office. Residential property owners pay $6.611 toward the school district for every $1,000 taxable value of their homes.

Clovis Schools Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm said the school taxes in the city are lower than the state average for school districts of the same size. The state’s average is 7.727 mils.

In this election the school district is asking for $12 million for four years, at a rate of five mils. Seidenwurm said approval of the bond should not change tax rates; essentially, the request is a continuation of funding already in existence.

The money will go to capital outlay projects, such as repairing or constructing school facilities.

The school district can also participate in a six-year-old program with the state, which gives eligible school districts an 80 percent match of the cost of critical repairs, Seidenwurm said.

“Clovis hasn’t gotten a whole lot of that money because our facilities have been in good shape, and so little school districts that don’t have a tax base have sort of been in front of us,” she said. “Well, it’s our turn now.”

The authority ranks the more than 800 new Mexico public school facilities to decide which on gets funding first. This year, Seidenwurm said four Clovis schools made it in the top 65 schools, with the Arts Academy at Bella Vista ranking fourth.

If the Clovis School District can’t come up with the 20 percent for the state match, the money will go to another school district, Seidenwurm said.

“It would just be devastating if at a time when our schools are finally coming to the top (of the list), we didn’t have a way to accept the state’s money,” she said. “That money will go somewhere. It’ll come to other school districts, and obviously I want it to come to us.”

Polling locations:

Polling place 1
Zia Elementary School, 2400 N. Norris
Precinct 18 and a portion of precinct 19 within Board Member District 1.

Polling place 2
Yucca Middle School, 1500 Sycamore St.
Precincts 22, 23, 24 and 27 and portions of precincts 26 and 33 within Board Member District 1.

Polling place 3
James Bickley Elementary, 500 W. 14th St.
Precincts 9, 14, 20 and 21 within Board Member District 2.

Polling place 4
Yucca Middle School,
Precinct 32 and a portion of precinct 19 within Board Member District 2.

Polling place 5
Arts Academy at Bella Vista, 2900 Jefferson
Precincts 29 and 31 and a portion of precinct 36 within Board Member District 3.

Polling place 6
Sandia Elementary, 2801 Lore St.
Precinct 11 and a portion of precinct 10 within Board Member District 3.

Polling place 7
Barry Elementary, 3401 Thornton St.
Precincts 12, 13 and 15 and portions of precincts 3, 10 and 16 within Board Member District 4.

Polling place 8
Mesa Elementary, 4801 N. Norris
Precincts 17 and 37 and portions of precinct 12 and 35 within Board Member District 4.

Polling place 9
Clovis High School Freshman Campus, 1400 Cameo
Precincts 6, 7, 8 and 25 within Board Member District 5.

Polling place 10
Lockwood Elementary, 400 Lockwood Dr.
Precincts 5 and 28 and portions of precincts 26 and 30 within Board Member District 5