FARMINGTON — Capital projects at three Farmington schools could receive about $15 million in extra funds.
The Farmington Municipal School District's board of education will discuss and possibly vote today on three resolutions to increase the budgets for Farmington High, Hermosa Middle and Northeast Elementary schools.
The board will also vote today on whether to approve a bond election in February. Funding from that bond would pay for the capital projects at the three Farmington schools.
The school district partnered with the New Mexico Public School Facilities Authority to fund design and construction of projects at the three schools. The state will cover about 59 percent of the projects' costs.
If the school board increases the budgets for the projects, then the state's contribution will also increase proportionally.
Farmington High could see the biggest budget increase as the cost of rebuilding the high school reaches $62.2 million, up from the original projected cost of $53.7 million. The proposed total would increase the district's share by $9.5 million, going from $30.4 million from $20.9 million.
The increased costs are associated with constructing a new gymnasium and converting the current gym and nearby cafeteria area into a secondary gym, said Ted Lasiewicz, the district's chief of operations.
The current gym and cafeteria will be the only buildings renovated. The proposed plan calls for all other buildings to be demolished, and a single, two-story building will take their place.
The changes will push the completion date back from summer 2016 to December of that year.
"Part of the goal is to develop the safest campus possible by having a single structure with only a few entries," Lasiewicz said. "Farmington (High) is spread all over. It's wide open."
Of the $9.5 million increase, about $5.9 million will go to renovating the current gym and cafeteria into a secondary gym.
Because the renovation goes beyond the state's recommendation, the state will not fund the renovations, so the district will carry 100 percent of those costs.
The budget increase sought for Hermosa Middle School would raise the cost of renovations at the school from $10.2 million to $18.4 million. The district's share of the project cost would increase by $3.2 million, from $4.1 to $7.3 million.
While multiple options have been discussed for Hermosa, Lasiewicz said the plan that most efficiently uses both time and district's funds calls for two of the school's wings to be demolished and a two-story structure to be built connecting the north wing and the gymnasium. Also included in the proposed plans are a new library and cafeteria. All of the renovations are scheduled to be completed around the start of the 2015-2016 school year.
The proposal calls for relocating school operations to the old Tibbetts Middle School on Apache Street for the 2014-2015 school year. If renovation was conducted while school was in session, it would extend the project to two or more years.
"When you are trying to do major renovations around an on-going school, it's very problematic," Lasiewicz said. "We don't want to impact students more than necessary. It would be most beneficial to move students from Hermosa to the old Tibbetts for a year."
Northeast Elementary could see its project budget increase to $19.3 million from $12.7 million, if the board approves increasing the district's share of funding by an additional $2.6 million. It would raise the district's share from $5.1 million to $7.7 million.
One of the options for Northeast includes building a brand new two-story structure south of the current building and demolishing the current school to make way for a new play field.
If this option is selected, it would reduce construction time to one year, like Hermosa, and students would use the current building until the new one is constructed.
The cost of building a new school is about 25 percent more expensive than renovating the 60 year-old school.
"The best course of action for Northeast is not to renovate, but tear it down and build a new one," Lasiewicz said. "If you are going to spend that much, that's a pretty expensive Band-Aid."
Candace Young, Northeast's principal, said she is ready for construction at the school, even though the scope of work is yet to be decided.