Kirtland — Donny BlueEyes walked away from a presentation by the Central Consolidated School District with a better understanding of what it will take to replace Ruth N. Bond and Grace B. Wilson elementary schools.

BlueEyes, who has four children enrolled in CCSD, attended the meeting on Tuesday at Kirtland Central High School to provide his input about the schools' future.

Both schools, which officials say are in major need of repairs, are slated to be rebuilt in the next year and a half. School administrators have provided three options for the schools. One includes renovating both schools. The other two options center on combining the two schools and constructing a new building around Ruth N. Bond's gym. Under one of those options, the new school would house 600 students in kindergarten through sixth grade, and Ojo Amarillo Elementary would be expanded to accommodate the rest of the student body. The other option calls for the new school to hold 715 students.

A crack in the wall of the Ruth N. Bond Elementary School cafeteria seen Wednesday, July 17, 2013, in Kirtland, was caused by expanding soil sediment.
A crack in the wall of the Ruth N. Bond Elementary School cafeteria seen Wednesday, July 17, 2013, in Kirtland, was caused by expanding soil sediment. (The Daily Times file photo)

As part of the process, attendees at Tuesday's meeting were asked to break into groups and complete surveys about school capacity, grade configuration, attendance zones and facility features.

BlueEyes said his group talked about the possibility of combining the two elementary schools.

"We thought it would be more efficient to come together as one," the Kirtland resident said.

He thinks the gymnasium at Grace B. Wilson Elementary should be kept for use by the community.

"It is used for after-school activities like (Kirtland Youth Association) basketball," BlueEyes said.

Ruth N. Bond Elementary was built in 1969 and houses pre-kindergarten through third grades with 398 students attending this school year.

Grace B. Wilson Elementary was built in 1984 and accommodates fourth through sixth grades with an enrollment of 255 students.

Both schools are in need of repairs and are ranked among the schools most in need of repairs on the New Mexico Condition Index, which is maintained by the state's Public School Facilities Authority.

Design and construction for a facility to replace the elementary schools would be paid for by part of $20 million bond voters approved in August and from the New Mexico Public School Capital Outlay.

The price tag for rebuilding the two schools is just less than $25 million, according to presentation school officials made on Tuesday.

Bill Sprick, facilities master planner with the state's Public School Facilities Authority, said when the state helps replace or renovate a school, an aspect they examine is square footage.

"We don't want this money to be wasted. We want to focus on good utilization, to make sure that your schools are sized right," Sprick said during the presentation.

Printha Scott is a first-grade teacher at Ruth N. Bond Elementary, and her child is in third grade at the school.

Tuesday was Scott's second time hearing the information. She also attended a presentation in December made to teachers from both schools.

"I think it's helpful information," she said. "I think we have opinions about what the district is trying to do, and having that information helps us understand where they are coming from."

Scott's group agreed that keeping the schools separate would be beneficial to students because the comprehension level between younger and older students varies, and it would also alleviate issues like bullying.

"I think the district will consider it (the input). However, they have already decided what is best," Scott said.

Marilyn Strube, vice president of the architecture firm Greer Stafford/SJCF Architecture, said the survey would be posted on the district's website by Monday.

Construction on the two schools is expected to start in July 2015, school officials have previously said.

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.