FARMINGTON — Hermosa Middle School staff finished up last-minute tasks on Tuesday as they prepared for a fresh start to the school year at the old Tibbetts Middle School building.

Desks lined some of the hallways as teachers finished unpacking their classrooms and preparing their lessons before school kicks off. Vice Principal Kelly Erickson said a few odds and ends were left to complete before sixth graders arrive today for the start of school.

"The struggle right now is unpacking boxes and finding out things did not make it," Erickson said on Tuesday. "Like a teacher can't find a box of English books."

Kelly Stone, a science and math teacher at Hermosa Middle School, talks on Tuesday about her collection of preserved animals in her new classroom at the
Kelly Stone, a science and math teacher at Hermosa Middle School, talks on Tuesday about her collection of preserved animals in her new classroom at the old Tibbetts Middle School in Farmington. (Jon Austria/ The Daily Times)

The Hermosa campus on 25th Street is currently under renovation. Work crews have demolished most of the building, saving the north wing and the gymnasium to be incorporated into the new Hermosa Middle School. The renovated campus is scheduled to be open for the 2015-2016 school year. In the meantime, Hermosa's staff and students will be housed at the old Tibbetts Middle School building on Apache Street.

School starts up soon for most San Juan County students. All students with the Farmington Municipal School District start on Thursday, and classes with the Aztec Municipal School District are back in session on Friday, with transition students starting on Thursday. Students with the Bloomfield School District and the Central Consolidated School District go back on Monday. Transition students with those two districts will be back in school on Friday.

Before Hermosa staff and students relocated to the old Tibbetts building, a number of things were installed inside the facility that's been sitting empty for the past school year.

Erickson said wireless network routers were installed to allow teachers and students to use their assigned laptop computers in the classrooms. Also the combination codes for lockers had to be located.

Hermosa Middle School teachers Ann Kennedy, left, and Brianne Haskill go over lesson plans on Tuesday at the old Tibbetts Middle School in Farmington.
Hermosa Middle School teachers Ann Kennedy, left, and Brianne Haskill go over lesson plans on Tuesday at the old Tibbetts Middle School in Farmington. Hermosa staff and students will be housed in the old Tibbetts building this school year while their campus is under construction. (Jon Austria / The Daily Times)

Ann Durphy, a seventh-grade science teacher, said most teachers have embraced the move since it will shorten the construction time on the new Hermosa building by one year and save staff the trouble of otherwise working in portable classrooms on Hermosa's soccer field.

Durphy said parents were concerned about the relocation, but two years operating out of portables could have been worse with loud construction occurring yards away.

"I don't think they could have fathomed what would have happened down there," Durphy said. "It would have been muddy because all of the portables would be on the soccer field. It would have been a nightmare."

To handle the temporary relocation, the district added six more buses to the schedule, meaning a total of 10 will transport students to and from Hermosa's Apache Street campus. The extra buses will transport students who are in walking distance of the Hermosa campus.

Additionally, the start and end of classes was delayed 10 minutes to handle the increased traffic. Erickson said parents should drop their children off on the Comanche Street entrance.

Across the street from Hermosa, there's also construction happening on Northeast Elementary School. Construction crews will be working on the south side of the school throughout the school year as they construct a new building.

Principal Candace Young said students will visit the north playfield during recess.

"Northeast is very fortunate we have a great deal of real estate," Young said.

Northeast lead teacher Desiree Edney said crews will schedule construction work around testing times to avoid extra noise.

Young said parents will need to pick up students on Zuni Street and avoid parking on 25th Street because the parking lot near Hermosa is for teacher and day care use.

"I guess it's a minor discomfort for the joy of having a new building," Young 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.