woman painting wall

Thank You Rio Rancho! Voters Say "Yes!" to Bond Issue

Posted on 11/06/2019

Thanks to support from Rio Rancho voters, RRPS will be able to move forward with new classrooms for career-technical education, replacement of outdated heating and air conditioning systems, and more! Official results indicate about 72% of those going to the polls said "yes" to the district's $60 million bond proposal.  Passage permits the school district to issue new bonds as old ones are retired, maintaining the current tax rate (no tax increase!).  

The official results as canvassed by Sandoval County and certified by the State Canvassing Board are:

For:  6,052   71.99% Against:  2,355   28.01% Total votes cast:  8,407

The turnout is by far the largest ever recorded for a Rio Rancho Public Schools election.  Thank you to everyone who took the time to go to the polls and for your support of teaching and learning in Rio Rancho.     

PROJECTS INCLUDED IN THE $60 MILLION BOND PROPOSAL:

Click on the tabs below for details:

  • HEATING, VENTILATION AND AIR CONDITIONING (HVAC): $43.5 Million

  • IT INFRASTRUCTURE AND CAPACITY: $3 Million

  • CAREER-TECHNICAL EDUCATION (CTE) AND HIGH SCHOOL EXPANSION: $12 Million

  • ATHLETIC FIELD REPLACEMENT:  $1.5 Million

HEATING, VENTILATION AND AIR CONDITIONING (HVAC): $43.5 MILLION

Students cannot learn effectively in buildings that are too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter.  The HVAC systems at many of our schools have aged well beyond their useful lifespan; in some cases parts to repair them are no longer available.   (A picture is worth a thousand words.  Check a few out here!)

The district is in need of funding to replace all or part of the systems at nine district schools: to learn more click here.  Bond-funded replacement of HVAC systems at three other schools either has been completed (Lincoln MS, Enchanted Hills ES) or is being applied to HVAC as part of new school construction (Shining Stars Preschool)

In addition to creating a functional, comfortable environment where students can concentrate on their classes, functional HVAC systems will save the district money!  New units are more energy-efficient and cut utility costs, as well as providing clean, healthy air circulation in our buildings.  Money not spent on gas and electricity can go directly back into classrooms to pay for teaching and learning. 

IT INFRASTRUCTURE AND CAPACITY: $3 MILLION

Effective teaching and learning is increasingly dependent on schools having access to adequate, reliable secure technology resources.  The bond proposal includes $3 million to update and maintain the current infrastructure and increase capacity to meet students’ and teachers’ growing use of technology.  System upgrades will help the district meet ever-increasing security requirements to support the “Future Ready” initiative.  The district will leverage this $3 million to bring in an additional $5 million in revenue through E-Rate, a federally-funded program that provides matching educational technology funds to school districts.

CAREER-TECHNICAL EDUCATION (CTE) AND HIGH SCHOOL EXPANSION: $12 MILLION

Rio Rancho High and Cleveland High are currently both over capacity and in 2018-19 were the two largest high schools in New Mexico.  Both schools need additional classrooms.  The estimated cost of adding six classrooms to each of the two comprehensive high schools (Cleveland High and Rio Rancho High) is approximately $5.4 million. 

Specialized classroom space will also be required to support the district’s growing Career Technical programs and provide opportunities at both comprehensive high schools to meet current and future needs.  

There may be an opportunity to partner with CNM on a new facility to support career-technical programs and dual-credit programs at the high school and post-secondary levels, enabling the District/CNM to jointly maximize the use of taxpayer dollars.  Passage of the bond issue would help RRPS expand these programs and open additional career pathways.

ATHLETIC FIELD REPLACEMENT:  $1.5 MILLION

The artificial turf fields at the Cleveland High and Rio Rancho High stadiums is reaching the end of its useful life and needs replacement.  Worn-out turf could present a safety hazard to student athletes participating in football, soccer, and track and field.  The potential for injury is also a liability issue.  This project also would give the district the opportunity to evaluate whether artificial turf or natural grass fields would best serve students’ needs in terms of safety and long-term maintenance costs.  

Promises Kept!

Since the district was founded in 1994, through eight bond elections voters have entrusted Rio Rancho Public Schools with $358 million in property tax revenue for school construction and renovation, as well as up to $4.5 million annually for school maintenance and technology generated by the two-mill capital improvements levy.  With that trust comes an obligation on the part of the school district to complete the projects it promised the voters who approved the issuance of the bonds.  RRPS takes this obligation seriously.  In the past 25 years, RRPS has built or purchased buildings for fourteen school campuses (including all four high schools) to meet the needs of a rapidly-growing community.  Two additional campuses are under construction.  The district has completed hundreds of projects at its schools, including classroom and support facility additions, roofing, heating and cooling improvements, technology infrastructure, facilities for athletics and fine arts, and more.  Click on the links in the column at right to view lists of completed projects from previous bond issues and the status of projects promised in the most recent bond elections.  Keep in mind that when bond elections are approved, the money becomes available over a period of years, rather than immediately after the passage of the bond issue.   Therefore, some projects from the most recent bond issues are still in progress.   Thank you to the citizens of Rio Rancho for your trust and support. 

2016 Bond Projects

The 2016 bond issue was passed in August 2016.  Funds will become available in approximately $15 million increments over a four-year period.  

ALL SCHOOLS

Technology improvements: ($7 million)

 

  Technology upgrades 1.5 million/yr    over a four-year period

 

Security enhancements ($1 million)

 

  Security enhancements

 

  Exterior lighting study

 

SHINING STARS PRESCHOOL 

 

  New campus: ($15.5 million)

Complete

 

JOE HARRIS ELEMENTARY

 

  New campus ($24.5 million)

Complete

 

RIO RANCHO HIGH SCHOOL

  Security improvements: access control

  Exterior improvements: B&E Academy

  Football/soccer stadium emergency   access/parking/landscaping

  Track stadium restrooms/storage/fencing

  Site security improvements (fencing)

 

V. SUE CLEVELAND HIGH SCHOOL

  Student parking expansion

 

INDEPENDENCE HIGH SCHOOL

  ADA access improvements

 

RIO RANCHO MIDDLE SCHOOL

  HVAC Improvements 

  Fine arts storage

  South wing improvements

 

EAGLE RIDGE MIDDLE SCHOOL

  HVAC Improvements

  Gym floor: conversion to wood

MOUNTAIN VIEW MIDDLE SCHOOL

  HVAC Improvements 

  Gym floor: conversion to wood

 

LINCOLN MIDDLE SCHOOL

  Fine Arts equipment storage

 

COLINAS DEL NORTE ELEMENTARY

  HVAC improvements

 

MLK ELEMENTARY

  Site pedestrian safety improvements

 

PUESTA DEL SOL ELEMENTARY

  Playground access improvements

 

RIO RANCHO ELEMENTARY 

  Security improvements: access control

 

REAL ESTATE

  Land Purchase ($3 million) 

 

Total: $60,000,000

The 2019 bond issue was passed in November 2019.  Funds will become available over a four-year period.  

RFP for Professional Design services, construction start tentative for Summer 2021

 

HEATING, VENTILATION, AND AIR CONDITIONING (HVAC): $43.5 MILLION

 

  Colinas del Norte Elementary

  Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary

  Puesta del Sol Elementary

  Rio Rancho Elementary

  Eagle Ridge Middle School

  Mountain View Middle School

  Rio Rancho Middle School

 

TECHNOLOGY ENHANCEMENTS: $3 MILLION

 

  Technology enhancements

 

CAREER-TECHNICAL EDUCATION/HIGH SCHOOL EXPANSION:  $12 MILLION

  CAREER-TECHNICAL EDUCATION

  Career-Technical Education Center

  Career-Technical classroom enhancements

 

  HIGH SCHOOL EXPANSION

  Cleveland High School - Additional Classrooms

  Rio Rancho High School - Additional Classrooms 

 

ATHLETIC FIELD REPLACEMENT:$1.5 MILLION  

  Cleveland High School

  Rio Rancho High School

 

TOTAL: $60,000,000

Thank you, Rio Rancho!

Official Canvassed Election Returns Here!

On February 6, Rio Rancho voters renewed the Rio Rancho Public Schools capital improvements two mill levy,which pays for routine maintenance of school facilities, computer software and hardware, interactive instructional technology, and technology infrastructure.  The measure passed with 81.9% of those voting saying yes, and 19.1% saying no.  Passage of the ballot measure maintains the current tax rate. 

What does RRPS do with the funds raised through the mill levy?  View our short videos!

What is the Two-Mill Capital Improvements Levy (SB-9), and why is it important?

The Public School Capital Improvements Tax – also known as SB-9 or the two-mill levy -- provides an ongoing source of funding to pay for routine school maintenance, small construction projects, and technology. These projects protect the taxpayers’ investment in our buildings and assure they are safe, functional places for teaching and learning.  School districts must ask the voters to reauthorize the tax every six years.

How much money does the mill levy provide?  How is it used?

The Capital Improvements Mill Levy generates revenue equal to two mills ($2) per $1,000 of taxable value of property within the school district (for example, approximately $100 for a $150,000 home). The two-mill levy currently provides about $4.3 million per year to RRPS and $85,000 to the ASK Academy. 

State statute allows the use of mill levy funds for:

  • Building, remodeling, equipping, and furnishing public school buildings

  • Purchasing/improving public school grounds

  • Maintenance of buildings and grounds

  • Purchasing computers and software for student use

  • Purchasing/installing technology infrastructure

  • Purchasing activity vehicles to transport students to school activities

Mill levy funds cannot be used for school district staff salaries.

How is this different from a bond issue?

The two-mill levy is not the same as a bond issue – they are two different things and both are important:

Charter Schools Benefit Too!

Passage supports state-chartered public schools within the RRPS boundary — the ASK Academy and the Sandoval Academy of Bilingual Education (SABE). Revenues generated by the mill levy are prorated based on enrollment.

What happens if the mill levy does not pass?

Crucial building maintenance would either not be performed or would have to be paid for by taking operational money out of the classroom. 

The district would lose matching funds (up to $600,000 per year, depending on local tax collections) provided by the state to districts whose voters have approved levying the capital improvements tax.

A Busy Summer for School Construction Projects

Posted on 08/05/2019

Summertime may be vacation time for students, but some of the staff that supports student learning, it is the busiest time of year. The facilities custodians and maintenance staff uses this time to deep-clean buildings and make small repairs, while contractors rush to complete building projects so they are ready for returning students and teachers.

This year is no exception, as the Facilities staff has been busy with some of the largest projects promised voters in recent bond issues, as well as security projects funded by the state legislature. Some highlights:

Major bond projects:

Joe Harris Elementary: The walls are going up at Rio Rancho’s newest elementary school! The project is on schedule and in budget, with opening of the facility set for August 2020. 

Shining Stars Preschool: On any building project, weeks of site work takes place before progress is visible above ground, and the new preschool is no exception. Contractors have been busy grading and bringing in utilities and have now started pouring the foundation. The project remains on schedule and in budget for an August 2020 opening.

Cleveland High School landscaping: Some of those big bare dirt areas are finally getting a new look! One highlight is a new outdoor seating area near the cafeteria, which can also be used as an outdoor classroom (and was promptly dubbed “Stonehenge.”). Essentially completed. 

Rio Rancho High School Business & Entrepreneurship Academy exterior improvements: among them, replacing windows and new paint. Completion anticipated the end of August.

Mountain View MS gym floor replacement: This project replaces the ceramic tile gym floor with a wood floor, bringing it up to the standard of other gymnasiums in the district. Installation of the new floor should be completed in late August, with completion of new bleachers scheduled for early October. 

RRHS stadium emergency access: This project facilitates access to the field for emergency personnel. Essentially completed. 

Independence High School access improvements (Americans with Disabilities Act): Essentially completed. 

Cleveland High School student parking: This project will expand the limited parking space available at the state’s second-largest high school, and is scheduled for completion in late September.

Rio Rancho Middle School HVAC improvements (gym building): This project completes an overhaul of the HVAC system in the gym building. Essentially complete. The district is awaiting funding for replacement of HVAC units on the rest of the campus. 

Rio Rancho Middle School fine arts storage: Completed

Sandia Vista Elementary landscaping: Completed. A similar project at Cielo Azul Elementary is scheduled this winter. 

Puesta del Sol Elementary playground access improvements: Essentially completed.  

Enchanted Hills Elementary HVAC improvements: Part of an ongoing process of upgrading HVAC at this older campus. Essentially completed.

Bond projects in planning and development:

  • Gymnasium floor replacement, Eagle Ridge Middle School (similar to the project at Mountain View): Scheduled summer 2020

  • Site improvements for pedestrian access, Martin Luther King Elementary School

  • Rio Rancho High School track stadium restrooms and fencing

Projects funded by the state legislature and state government: 

  • Cleveland High School entry: This project will improve access control on the campus, routing visitors through the office for security checks during the school day. Visitors will be “buzzed in” through a double set of doors. Nearly complete.

  • Gunshot Detection Systems, Rio Rancho High and Cleveland High (PSFA security award): Completed.

In planning and development:

  • Security Bollards, elementary and middle schools: Improvements to perimeter security (e.g. fencing and gates), Cleveland High School

  • Inclusive improvements to playgrounds

Projects completed from other funding sources: Cleveland High School classroom expansion:  Construction of four new classrooms and completion of two additional classrooms created in former commons areas of the main building.  Completed.  

Questions and Answers About the Bond Proposal and the Bond Election

Q: When is the bond election? A: Tuesday, November 5, 2019  Q: How much money will the bond election generate for RRPS?   A: $60 million, which will become available to the district over a four-year period.   Q: How will the funds be used?  A: The Rio Rancho Public Schools Board of Education (school board) has identified four projects for funding from the revenue generated by this bond issue:

  • Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC): $43.5 Million

  • It Infrastructure and Capacity: $3 Million

  • Career-Technical Education and High School Expansion: $12 Million

  • Athletic Field Replacement:  $1.5 Million

To learn more about these projects, click on the tabs at the bottom of our bond election home page. 

Q:  Who chose the projects?  
A:  A committee consisting of community and business members and leaders, parents, and school district staff discussed possible projects and made a recommendation to the school board.  The board approved the committee’s recommendation. 

Q:  Why are no new schools included in the bond proposal?
A:  For the past several years Rio Rancho Public Schools’ enrollment has been flat, and we still have space available in some of our elementary and middle schools.  The opening of Joe Harris Elementary in 2020 will enable us to reduce enrollment in the elementary schools that are over capacity and accommodate major new housing developments.  Our biggest issues with classroom space are at the high school level, and this bond proposal includes funding to build additional classrooms at Rio Rancho and Cleveland High, and specialized classrooms for career-technical programs that will further absorb some students from our high schools.   

The fact that we do not need to build new schools right away enables us to designate most of the proceeds from this bond issue to much-needed repairs at existing campuses.  These upgrades will contribute to the health and safety of our students and assure a functional environment for teaching and learning. 

We are aware home construction has picked up in Rio Rancho and are monitoring this closely, but so far this has not translated to large numbers of new students.   

Q: Can’t buildings be maintained with my regular tax dollars or with state appropriations? A: Yes, to some degree, but the funds available for maintenance from those sources are not sufficient to cover repairs to large building systems (heating and cooling, for example).  Those big projects are best funded through bond dollars. 

Q: I don’t have children in RRPS schools. Why are new schools and building maintenance important to me? A: Quality, well-maintained schools attract families and businesses to Rio Rancho. Realtors will tell you that Rio Rancho’s schools are one of the biggest reasons families — and businesses — choose to move to Rio Rancho. The district’s academic results are a big draw, but so are its safe, clean, functional facilities. The quality of RRPS’s facilities also supports economic development and brings visitors – and their dollars – into our city. Q: What happens if the bond fails to pass? A: We would not be able to do the projects included in the bond issue, with the following results:

  • Crucial building maintenance would either not be performed or would have to be paid for by taking operational money out of the classroom. Over time, schools would become more run-down and less effective as learning environments.

  • Costs for repairs would go up as building systems age even further, and the district would not be able to take advantage of the energy cost savings that could be achieved with more modern HVAC equipment.

  • We could miss out on getting additional federal matching funds for technology, which could compromise our ability to provide an efficient and secure computer network for teaching and learning.

  • It would hamper our ability to provide the career-technical training courses our students need and the business community says would benefit our city’s economy. 

Q: Will my tax rates go up if the bond is passed? A: No.  We are asking voters to continue their current level of property tax support for public schools. Passage will allow the district to issue new bonds as old ones are paid off, so the tax rate stays the same.    

Q: How much does this cost me on my property taxes? A:  It comes to about $8.54/$1,000 of the net taxable value of the property (or 1/3 of a property’s actual value).  For example, if you have a $150,000 home, the taxable value would be $50,000, so the levy would come to $428 per year (slightly less if you have a head of household or veterans exemption). That’s about the price of a cup of coffee per day.  Q: How do I know my levy money is being used wisely?

A: Independent studies conducted by the Center for American Progress, a Washington D.C.-based think tank, ranked Rio Rancho Public Schools top in the state in terms of “bang for the buck” — strong educational results relative to per-student funding. It provides independent confirmation that RRPS uses its dollars wisely to produce results in the classroom. Q:  Who may vote in the bond election? A:  Any registered voter residing in the Rio Rancho Public Schools district may cast a ballot.  To find out if you are a registered Rio Rancho voter, contact the Sandoval County Bureau of Elections at 867-7577.  If you are not registered, you may register online (before October 8) or at any polling place at the time you cast your vote.  (This is also a recent change to state law.) Q:  Why is this election different from previous bond elections? A:  Until recently, state law required that school elections be held separately from other elections.  Recent changes to the law require that school districts and most other local jurisdictions (except some municipalities and some county offices) hold a combined election on the first Tuesday in odd-numbered years.  Q:  What else will be on the ballot?  A:  The election will include candidates for elective positions on school boards (including Rio Rancho’s), community colleges (including CNM), flood control authorities (including SSCAFCA), and other local boards and commissions.  It will also include ballot questions from all of these entities as well as water and sanitation districts and tax increment districts.  

RRPS Funding Sources and How They May Be Used

Rio Rancho Public Schools receives funding from a number of sources.  Most of these revenue streams support specific functions within the school district, and the funds can only be spent for specific purposes.

One of those sources of funding is capital outlay dollars, which come from voter-approved bond issues and tax levies as well as through direct funding from the legislature.  We're often asked if money from bond issues can be used to hire additional teachers or raise teacher salaries.  The answer is no.  It can only be used for projects related to the the building of new schools or additions to existing schools, building and grounds renovation and maintenance, or for technology.  

The chart shown at left further describes these funding sources, how they are "siloed," and how the funds may be used.  

Information on tax rates

The table shown at left and linked here indicates tax rates levied for Rio Rancho Public Schools over the past five years.  It includes three sections:  Operational (a very small levy collected by the state for distribution to public schools), Two-Mill Levy (voter-approved funding used for school maintenance and technology; this levy was last authorized in 2018), and Debt Service (bonds for school construction and other projects; the last bond issue was passed in 2016).  

The table shown at left and linked hereprovides a comparison of school tax rates for Rio Rancho and surrounding districts, including Albuquerque, Bernalillo, Cuba, and Jemez Valley.