Courier staff writer
ALAMOSA — Even after selling two properties, the Alamosa School District (ASD) still needs a mill levy to bring a new athletic complex and vo/ag building to the community, according to Alamosa Board of Education officials.
In the past year, the ASD made $2.2 million from the sales of the former Evans and Boyd elementary schools, and today they are asking for a $4.99 million bond because the sale money is and will be used to upgrade technology and a laundry list of capital improvements.
“It would be reckless and careless of us to spend that money on a football stadium,” said ABOE secretary Christine Haslett in an interview on Friday. “We have a street with a bus loading and unloading zone at the high school that needs to be fixed.”
She said both Ortega Middle School (OMS) and the Alamosa High School are in dire need of computers. OMS computer technology was partially upgraded in recent years thanks to a 21st Century Learning Grant, but the other lab is outdated. In the high school, teachers have to juggle class schedules with competitive computer lab times and, in some cases, to satisfy electronic testing requirements.
“The teachers are being very creative getting our kids through,” Haslett said. “I know that any time you change a schedule to have to do that testing, it affects the classroom and it affects learning.”
In addition to the planned technology upgrade, the sale money is also being considered for the annual $110,000 cost the district took on when it built the new Alamosa Elementary school and $64,000 went to purchase federally mandated two-way radio equipment earlier this year.
“That number ($64,000) was not in our current budget, so we tapped into that money,” said ASD Superintendent Rob Alejo. “In my opinion, we could drop $2.2 million by the end of this week and it is already Friday. For most observers around the district, I would bet they would be challenged to find where we spent that $2.2 million.”
According to a GE Johnson Construction Company report, the mill levy dollars, if approved, will breakdown like this: $3,075,000 will fund the track and field; bleachers; press box: a ticketing and concessions building; bathrooms; first aid office; an officials building and the “Walk to Glory,” a path from the school entrance to the complex. $580,000 will fund locker rooms and an athletic storage building and other dollars will be earmarked for roadwork, sports equipment and OMS facility upgrades. The vo/ag building cost is under $1 million.
“I remind you,” said ABOE vice president Neil Hammer. “The street work is mandated by the city.”
The ABOE officials agreed the project would not cause district maintenance costs to increase.
“They (maintenance costs) have been identified through ways of potential savings,” Alejo said. “As far as the hardcore budget, we are annual to annual. It will become a line item in the 2013-2014 school year if the bond passes in November.”
The eventual sale of the former Polston Elementary School, which is in the process of being reassessed, was not discussed.
Moose need space to graze
A new Adams State University football stadium has provided Alamosa athletes with some opportunities to play under the lights and race on a top-of-the-line track, but not without some sacrifice, according to the ABOE officials. When the Moose travel on to Grizzly territory, they must surrender concession sales, pay to clean up after events and they don’t always have access at the right time.
“We have an excellent relationship with Adams State University, but it’s their facilities and they are using them when we need them,” Hammer said. “When it is dark and the kids are trying to practice track that is not the answer.”
Since the new AHS was built, the ABOE officials have wanted to see a complete and modern environment to meet all students’ needs.
“When you have good facilities, it creates an excitement that does carry over into education,” Hammer said. “That is why kids are excited about this (3A) and that is why kids want to be a part of it.”
Haslett added, “We put a lot of thought into this (3A). We sat lots of hours before we even decided to support this. We understand that it is a huge thing to ask of the community.”
Alamosa property owners can contact the Assessor’s Office to learn how much the mill levy will affect their taxes, 589-6365.