School bond election ballots go out Jan. 6

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By Carol A. Clark

Based on recommendations from the 20-Year Facilities Renewal Plan developed by the Facilities Planning Committee, a bond election is planned for January to address the pressing facility renewal needs of Los Alamos Public Schools.


The majority of the facilities are at least 45-years-old, with the age of the high school nearing 60. Outdated and ill-equipped, many of the buildings do not provide a learning environment that meets the needs of today’s students, explained School Board President Steve Girrens.


For less than the cost of a soda, residents can ensure area students have the facilities needed to provide a quality education by voting for the school bond, he said.


Ballots for the election are set to be mailed out Jan. 6 and must be returned by Jan. 27. Residents can register to vote at the Office of the County Clerk or at the Department of Motor Vehicles through Dec. 30.


The bond is $40 million, $3 million less than the amount LAPS is allowed by law to put to bond and at 6 percent bonding capacity of the total assessed value of the school district, Girrens said.


Superintendent Mary McLeod conducted research and determined that LAPS ranks about in the middle compared with mil levies at other area school districts.


“The first and largest project we will tackle is the replacement of B, C and D wings at Los Alamos High School,” Girrens said. “Other projects during the first bond cycle, which is four years, will be the replacement of structural concrete panels at the LAHS IMC (library), construction of a new Multipurpose/PE building and a new classroom building at Los Alamos Middle School, as well as preliminary design work on a replacement classroom wing at Aspen Elementary School.”


These schools and projects were chosen because every Los Alamos student utilizes the middle school and the high school, he said.


Design work on the B, C, D wing replacement building will begin immediately following a successful bond election. Construction on the project will start in the summer of 2010.


“We will commission an engineering study and plans for work in the high school IMC as well as two buildings at LAMS,” Girrens said. “Construction would then start at the middle school in 2011. We will also integrate Bond 4 funded maintenance work into the remaining two years of the Bond 3 cycle.”


Portables will be installed on one of the practice fields at LAHS and construction will take place while school is in session. Depending on timing, the schools may be able to use portables currently in use by Los Alamos County, he said. They also may possibly use UNM/LA classrooms and classrooms that now sit empty during planning periods.


A Bond Oversight Committee has been in place since the first bond was passed in 1998 and will continue to play a vital role in overseeing the disposition of the district’s bond funds, Girrens said. The Facility Master Plan Committee will also be involved in helping the district meet programmatic goals in its new construction.