FARMINGTON — Farmington residents on Tuesday will cast their votes on a $35 million bond that would help the Farmington Municipal School District fund capital projects and upgrade and repair district buildings.
If passed, the majority of the bond money would cover the district's portion of the new Farmington High School project and pay for extensive renovation of Hermosa Middle School and the new Northeast Elementary School. The total cost for renovations at the three schools is nearly $100 million.
The bond would also cover the cost of fixing roofs and repairing heating and air conditioning systems and playground equipment at elementary schools.
If voters approve the bond, the district's tax rate for debt service will remain at the current rate of $7.426 per $1,000 net taxable value of a home. For example, if a home is valued at $150,000, $50,000 of that would be taxable, yielding an annual payment of $371.30 for the homeowner.
The biggest bond project is the $62.2 million project to demolish and rebuild most of the buildings on the Farmington High School campus. The current gym and cafeteria will be renovated and used as a secondary gym while the remaining classroom and administration buildings will be demolished.
The district's Chief of Operations Ted Lasiewicz said the most recent update to the high school's construction plans call for two, three-story classroom buildings built around an outdoor courtyard area with the new fine arts center, library and cafeteria adjoined to the classroom buildings.
The layout is similar to the fourth option presented by the district during a Jan. 13 meeting at FHS.
"Essentially, the classrooms, the administration, the cafeteria, the library, all that will be a single structure," Lasiewicz said.
The district's Assistant Superintendent of Security and Communications Frank Stimac said the new school will be safer because staff will not have to secure 11 separate buildings on campus during an lockdown, and students will not have to travel outside to change classes.
Security is also a major priority as FBT Architects work on the design for the $18.4 million Hermosa project and $19.3 million Northeast project.
Principals from both schools said they are excited to see their buildings become more secure by limiting entries into the building to one door, and, in the case of Hermosa, combining all school buildings, like the gym, into a single structure.
"If you don't have safety, you don't have education," said Kelly Erickson, Hermosa's vice principal and athletic director.
The plans for Hermosa call for two wings of the school to be demolished and a new, three-story structure to be built to connect the north wing and the gymnasium.
Hermosa students for the 2014-2015 school year will be located in the old Tibbetts Middle School on Apache Street. Stimac said parents of Hermosa students had questions about relocating to the aging school building.
"A lot of people have that perception that Tibbetts was dangerous," Stimac said. "It wasn't that it was dangerous, it's just old."
District maintenance staff have been preparing the school for students by repainting the hallways, repairing the heating and air conditioner systems and replacing floor tiles.
Lasiewicz said all students living north of 20th Street will be bused to old Tibbetts school to avoid the busy road.
The New Mexico Public Education Department does not permit schools to transport middle school students who live within a mile and a half of the school.
In the renovated Hermosa building, students will play in a courtyard behind the school, instead of the current area on blacktop next to the parking lot.
"When we have 200 kids at lunch running around (the blacktop) the public can see and talk to them," Erickson said. "In the future, they'll have to come into the school to have access."
A new, two-story building for Northeast will be constructed south of the current building on what is now the play field. A new play field will be constructed after the old building is demolished.
Northeast's principal, Candace Young, said the new building will have proper bus loading and unloading zones for students who currently are picked up and dropped off on Knudsen Avenue.
"When they built this school, we didn't bus kids, so there no bus pickup," Young said.
Voting will take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.
The following are poll locations:
Sycamore Park Community Center, 1051 Sycamore St., Farmington
Farmington Municipal School District, Central Office Board Room, 2001 N. Dustin Ave., Farmington
La Plata Community Center, 1438 N.M. Highway 170, La Plata
Farmington Museum at Gateway Park, 3041 E. Main St. Farmington
McGee Park, 41 Road 5568, Farmington