Serving the High Plains

TPS bond election likely in November

A bond adviser for Tucumcari Public Schools recommended a two-mill levy renewal election in November, plus issuing an education technology note this year, to access more money for the district and ensure area property tax rates remain stable.

The school board during its Feb. 20 meeting didn’t take action on the proposal. That likely would happen at a meeting in April.

Regina Gaysina, director of the municipal finance department at RBC Capital Markets in Albuquerque, said she recommended the school district call a two-mill election for about $3 million in bonds in November, somewhat earlier than usual.

District voters previously passed a two-mill bond issue in February 2019.

Gaysina said because of rapid growth in assessed property values, the district is paying down its bond debt faster than usual.

She recommended the issuance of an education technology note this year, which she estimated at $500,000 to $700,000, where the district would pay interest on the money for just one day.

Superintendent Aaron McKinney said the technology note funds can be used for computer servers, intercoms, wiring and security cameras.

Logan Municipal Schools approved an education technology note of $335,000 in August that assured stable tax rates, plus funds for technology improvements.

Gaysina said the technology note and two-mill renewal would ensure the district’s tax rates would remain stable at or near $7.10 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

Without those actions, she said, the district might face a tax rate of zero one year, then a tax increase the next.

“I want to make sure you guys have a smooth transition into the November 2023 election,” she said.

Gaysina said RBC estimates the next two-mill election wouldn’t be until November 2029.

In other action:

— Board member Matthew Pacheco recently received a Leadership Achievement Award from the New Mexico School Boards Association for completing 24 hours of Level I training in the association’s leadership development program.

— The board changed its next meeting from March 20 to March 13 because the district would be in the middle of spring break.

— During board member comments, Jerry Lopez thanked the district and its staff for the support he and his family received in the last 60 days.

His nephew, 15-year-old Jayden Gloms, died in a vehicle accident in January. Jayden’s half-sister, 9-year-old Anastacia Padilla, died unexpectedly on Christmas Eve.

“You guys pulled us through some really dark days,” Lopez said, his voice shaking with emotion. “It means a lot.”

— Pacheco asked high school principal Nicole Bright-Lesly how the basketball team’s morale was in the wake of Jayden’s death.

She replied players were progressing “one step at a time” and that games “may be a good distraction” for them.

— In his superintendent’s report, McKinney said a project to replace climate-control systems at the elementary school was on schedule and may be finished in six months or sooner.

Elementary school principal Tonya Hodges said construction “has not been a distraction” for teachers and children so far.

Regarding the ballpark redevelopment project, he said construction crews were grading the new fields and setting up bases for light poles.

McKinney said Pacheco Construction donated its crews and equipment to repair a section of South 14th Street near the ball diamonds, partially using county road equipment.

— Hodges reported her school’s enrollment recently rose from 420 at the beginning of the school year to 476 now. She attributed that to families moving into the district.