FARMINGTON — Plans for a stronger early childhood presence in Farmington schools are progressing after the board of education approved a construction bid to start remodeling part of the Career and Technology Education Center.

The board on Thursday approved a bid of $1.4 million from Mick Rich Construction for the third phase of the CATE Center building, which houses the automotive and culinary arts programs and the school's technology department.

Approved as part of the 2010 bond project, the remodel will convert part of the eastern wing of the building into an area for pre-kindergarten that includes four classrooms, an administration area, kitchen, restrooms and nurse's office.

Linda Schilz, assistant superintendent for human resources, said the project will allow the school district to expand pre-kindergarten services to more elementary schools.

"I'm always excited for new opportunities for pre-K kids and their families," Schilz said.

The school district currently has pre-kindergarten programs for five elementary schools. Three more schools will be added once the construction project is completed.

Esperanza, McCormick and Bluffview elementary schools run their programs out of Esperanza with a temporary program setup for Apache and Animas elementary schools.

Animas' program is currently running out of Rocinante High School as part of the Parents as Teachers program.


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When the project is completed, Schilz said the district hopes to bring the programs for Animas and Apache to the CATE center, while creating new programs for Northeast, McKinley and Mesa Verde elementary schools in the remodeled space.

"We like the idea of several classrooms together to work on activities and events in the same location," Schilz said. "Pre-k is a little different than kindergarten with a lot of play-based instruction. It's nice to have them in the same location.

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This is the last phase of remodel for the old Swinburne Elementary School building, which was closed down in 2003 due to decreases in enrollment, said James Barfoot, assistant superintendent of operations.

As part of the third phase remodel, the Visions Day Care for district employees will be relocated from Piedra Vista High School.

A new classroom will be built for automotive program students and the current space will be turned into a virtual learning lab.

"We've had a lot of space that has been sitting unused," Barfoot said. "I'm glad we are going to finally use that space for something to benefit the kids."

Joshua Kellogg may be reached at jkellogg@daily-times.com; 505-564-4627. Follow him on Twitter @jkelloggdt.