APS looks to start building new schools through the Santolina Master Plan

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The first step in the controversial Santolina Project has been approved. The massive new housing development is slated to be built on Albuquerque’s West Mesa. Now, taxpayers may have to help front the $587 million to build schools in the neighborhood.

The new residential community will house about 37,000 people. That means, about 15,000 students would need new schools. Albuquerque Public Schools suggests they would need about 18 new campuses to help serve the residents of the Santolina Project.

The cost is hefty, but APS assures taxpayers it won’t all come at once.

“Housing will not be built if there’s no people to buy the housing. So population growth has to be robust,” said Kizito Wijenje, Capital Master Plan at APS.

The Santolina Master Plan still needs Levels B and C to be approved. Those levels would detail where homes and schools will be located. However, the future of this project depends on the health of the economy. If the economy doesn’t pick up, the plan will be put on hold.

“We cannot promise a new school 10 years from now. We cannot promise a new facility 5 years from now. What we can promise is that we will be doing the analysis way ahead of time, which is what we’re doing right now,” said Wijenje.

Currently, schools in Volcano Vista, West Mesa, and Atrisco Heritage are operating at high capacity, and APS says it’s important they start looking into building new schools. However, they want taxpayers to know, it’s not something that’s going to happen over night.

“Doesn’t mean we’ll build the schools tomorrow, it’s just that we’re identifying, and analyzing, and planning for the future,” said Wijenje.

The Santolina Project will be seeking approval from the county for the second phase in about a week.

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