RIO RANCHO — There was good — make that great — news for Rio Rancho Public Schools and 10 projects needing work, with news late Tuesday that the $80 million bond issue placed before voters received their approval.

Unofficial results show voters approved the bond issue with approximately 71% of the vote, with 7,142 voting in favor to 2,935 against, and with approximately 62% of the vote for the SB-9 measure, with 5,588 voting in favor to 3,477 against.

More than 10,000 Rio Rancho voters cast ballots for RRPS’s bond and more than 9,000 cast ballots for the SB-9 — the highest turnout Rio Rancho Public Schools has seen for both a bond and SB-9 election. (Absentee votes have yet to be counted by the Sandoval County Clerk’s Office but should not change the results.)

The $80 million bond will pay for safety and security upgrades; new classroom space at Rio Rancho and Cleveland high schools and Lincoln Middle School; a new Independence High School; additional preschool space; roof replacement; drainage mitigation; plumbing, electrical and HVAC upgrades; IT infrastructure; special services support center and a new Desert Pathways; fine arts production space and a new band room at RRHS; and enhancements to athletic facilities.

SB-9, the Public School Capital Improvements bond, accounts for that additional $32 million, at a rate of about $5.47 million each year for six years. That will provide “essential dollars” not only for RRPS, but also for The ASK Academy and the Sandoval Academy of Bilingual Education (SABE).

“We have been so fortunate to operate in a community that truly believes in education and understands its value,” said RRPS Superintendent Sue Cleveland. “The $80 million bond will allow Rio Rancho Public Schools to continue to provide quality spaces for students to learn and the SB-9 measure will provide crucial dollars for maintenance and repairs. Thank you for your unwavering commitment to education and your investment in our community. This bond represents not just an investment in our schools but an investment in our shared future.”

Miller defeats Montaño for board seat

In the only contested race for a seat on the school board, after District 4 board member Noreen Scott, — elected in 2019 — opted not to run for re-election, Beth Miller received 58 % of the vote to defeat former board member Ramon Montaño, 1,186-857.

“I want to thank all who helped with my campaign. I am very grateful for the time and energy given by so many who also are supportive of our schools,” Miller said. “I couldn’t have accomplished any of this campaign without their counsel and continued positive support.

“I’ve worked with the district on several initiatives in the past and have enjoyed the collaboration. I hope I can be an effective board member and keep student outcomes at the forefront. I am eager to begin working with the other board members, learn the board process and familiarize myself with the goals and work of the board,” she said. “I am very interested in the successful launch of the Career-Technical Educational Center and expanding partnerships and student internships with local businesses because we need a skilled workforce.

“Ensuring that our schools are as safe as possible is also important to me,” she added. “Our students and staff should not be afraid to go to school. I would support providing more infrastructure support, such as giving security guards body cams and implementing more access controls. Our community will become stronger with continued partnerships among city, county, health care and economic development agencies. A vibrant school district is the foundation to our community’s success.

“First and foremost, I want to congratulate my opponent on her victory,” Montaño said. “As a proud parent of an RRPS student, I will continue to advocate not only for my child but for every child in the district.

“I will continue to advocate at the Legislature to ensure that our district receives the necessary funding to provide the quality of education we have all come to expect in Rio Rancho. Additionally, I will continue to volunteer and work with the Rio Rancho High School boys basketball program, as I have done for the past eight years.”

Residing in what was District 2 in 2019, Montaño ran for re-election and lost to Amanda Galbraith, 713-493; Michael Mierzejewski also ran and attracted 328 votes.

Galbraith returns for second term

District 2 board member and current board president Amanda Galbraith, elected in 2019 and running unopposed this time, received 967 votes.

“I want to express my sincere gratitude to the community for placing their trust in me,” she said. “I am committed to advancing career technical education, enhancing safety and security in our schools, and serving as a dedicated voice for our community. Together, we can work toward a brighter future for our students and our district.

“Thank you for this incredible opportunity to make a positive impact on our education system,” Galbraith, a member of the RRHS Class of 2000, added.