From left, Brittany Bearce, Sammie Nelson and Teresa Jaquez help set up their classroom. Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013 at the Cate Center in Farmington.
From left, Brittany Bearce, Sammie Nelson and Teresa Jaquez help set up their classroom. Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013 at the Cate Center in Farmington. (Jon Austria The Daily Times)

FARMINGTON — As construction wraps up on the new pre-kindergarten space at the CATE Center, teachers say they are eager to start the school year.

On Wednesday, pre-kindergarten classes from five Farmington Municipal School District elementary schools will be relocated to the eastern wing of the Career and Technology Education Center. Renovation on the nearly $1.46 million project concludes this week.

The project is funded through the district's 2010 bond project. Renovations include four new classrooms, an administration area, a nurse's office, a kitchen, restrooms and a space for Visions, the district's day care program.

The pre-kindergarten programs for Animas, Apache, McKinley, Mesa Verde and Northeast elementary schools will be based out of the new CATE Center space.

Parents are anxious to see their children start school in the renovated classrooms, said Linda Schilz, the district's assistant superintendent of human resources.

She said parents have also been understanding of the late start date. Construction delayed the start of classes, which were originally scheduled to begin Aug. 19.

"They are very gracious and understanding that it's beyond our control," Schilz said. "It's nice to start when the other kids start, but that's the nature of the beast."

Construction on the CATE Center started in early April and was originally scheduled to finish in mid-October, said Ted Lasiewicz, the school district's chief of operations. But, he said, after rearranging the construction schedule, crews were able to finish early.

Theresa Jaquez, a pre-kindergarten teacher at the CATE Center, said setting up her classroom and unpacking the new school equipment has been like Christmas.

"It's so exciting to have my own classroom," she said. "I love it. It's so nice. It's brand new and beautiful."

Before relocating to the renovated classrooms, Jaquez worked with students from Animas Elementary in the Parents as Teachers office at Rocinante High School.

Moving nearly all of the district's pre-kindergarten programs into a single building provides teachers and students a space to work together as a community, said Rhonda Attaway, the principal of the pre-kindergarten program at the CATE Center.

Pre-kindergarten students who would attend Bluffview, Esperanza and McCormick elementary schools will continue to be housed at Esperanza.

Bill Brown, a maintenance worker with the Farmington Municipal School District helps set up furniture, Thursday, Aug 29, 2013, at the new pre-kindergarten
Bill Brown, a maintenance worker with the Farmington Municipal School District helps set up furniture, Thursday, Aug 29, 2013, at the new pre-kindergarten center at the Cate Center in Farmington. (Jon Austria The Daily Times)

Officials hope that expanding the CATE Center will allow the program to grow. Right now, about 100 students are enrolled in pre-kindergarten at the center, and the program has a maximum enrollment of 160.

"We hope to get more funding so that we can fully utilize this facility now that it's remodeled," Schilz said.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 and jkellogg@daily-times.com. Follow him @jkelloggdt on Twitter.