Kirtland — Teachers on Wednesday learned about options to replace the aging Ruth N. Bond and Grace B. Wilson elementary schools.

Ruth N. Bond Elementary was built in 1969 with additions made in 1985, 1991, 2001 and 2009. Grace B. Wilson Elementary was built in 1984.

Both schools, which are part of the Central Consolidated School District, have cracks in floors and walls caused by shifting soil settlements, and Ruth N. Bond has issues with drainage and its foundation.

The state will pay for a percentage of funding to renovate or replace the schools. The rest will come from part of the $20 million general obligation bond voters passed on Aug. 27.

Marilyn Strube, vice president of the architecture firm Greer Stafford SJCF, speaks with staff from Ruth N. Bond and Grace B. Wilson elementary schools at
Marilyn Strube, vice president of the architecture firm Greer Stafford SJCF, speaks with staff from Ruth N. Bond and Grace B. Wilson elementary schools at Grace B. Wilson Elementary School in Kirtland. (Jon Austria / The Daily Times)

Marilyn Strube, vice president of the architecture firm Greer Stafford SJCF, explained to teachers the list of options to renovate or replace the elementary schools.

The first option would be to renovate both elementary schools.

The second option would combine Ruth N. Bond and Grace B. Wilson into a 600-capacity elementary school that would hold kindergarten through sixth grades. That new elementary school would be built around the Ruth N. Bond gymnasium.

In addition to that, Ojo Amarillo Elementary School would expand to accommodate 600 students from pre-kindergarten to sixth grades, and the Grace B. Wilson gymnasium would become available for use by the community.

The third option would combine Ruth N. Bond and Grace B. Wilson elementary schools to accommodate 715 students from kindergarten to sixth grades. This option would have the new elementary school built around the Ruth N. Bond gymnasium and keep the Grace B. Wilson gymnasium for community use.

After the presentation, Strube asked teachers to state their preferences for the options. Instead, she received questions about converting one of the school gyms into a community library and about whether there would there be enough students to attend the schools should renovation or new construction occur.

Teachers also expressed concerns about building a new school on the same ground occupied by Ruth N. Bond since the soil continues to settle, causing structural damage.

One teacher said that two new schools should be built to replace Ruth N. Bond and Grace B. Wilson to keep the elementary schools separate because "that's what makes us unique."

Next week, teachers can share their ideas and opinions with Strube as a way to collect more input to determine which option the district should select.

Input will also be gathered from the community during a public meeting at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 14 at the Brooks/Isham Performing Arts Center in Kirtland.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 and nsmith@daily-times.com. Follow him on Twitter @nsmithdt on Twitter.