FARMINGTON — A new building under construction for Northeast Elementary School is expected to solve many issues currently plaguing the school, including a lack of classroom space and no safe access for loading and unloading students.

Work started in early June on a $16.6 million, two-story building south of the current campus at 1400 E. 23rd St. in Farmington. The building staff and students are using now will be demolished, and a playground and field will be constructed in its place.

Sanjay Engineer, the FBT Architects chief architect on the project, said the firm wanted to design a modern, 21st century learning facility to provide educational opportunities for students.

Construction work continues on Wednesday at Northeast Elementary School, located at 1400 E. 23rd St. in Farmington.
Construction work continues on Wednesday at Northeast Elementary School, located at 1400 E. 23rd St. in Farmington. (Jon Austria — The Daily Times)

"The architectural design and expression reflects the nature and character of the neighborhood, incorporating brick accents predominately used in the old school but using glass and glazes in a balanced layout for natural daylight in all spaces of the school," Engineer said.

The current building, built in 1959, is about 49,640 square feet, said Ted Lasiewicz, chief of operations for the Farmington Municipal School District. Currently, seven portables on-site add about 9,000 square feet.

The new building is 73,400 square feet. It is scheduled to be completed in July 2015 and will accommodate 600 students.

Last year's student population was 552 students, according to the 40-day count for the 2013-2014 school year.

"I feel like our students will be better served if they have a larger environment to work in," Principal Candace Young said.

Right now, several teachers share classrooms, Young said. In one classroom, six teachers in the school's reading program share a cramped space.

The new building will have a U-shaped design around a courtyard and designated areas for bus and parent drop-off.

A dedicated lane for buses to drop off and pick up students will be constructed south of the school, allowing buses to enter from Knudsen Avenue and exit onto Zuni Drive.

A designated parent drop-off point will be constructed on the east side of the building along Knudsen Avenue. This will allow parents to pull into a driveway to drop off their children, instead of parking along the street.

Lasiewicz said the number of parking spaces at the school will double from 64 to about 130, providing staff and parents a safe place to park rather than parking along Zuni Drive or Knudsen Avenue.

Lasiewicz said security and safety were also major factors during the design process. Remote locks will be installed on doors, and staff will be issued key cards to access the building.

"There is no direct access for the public to walk in from the street into the school," Lasiewicz said.

The entrance of the school will have a small entryway with access to the front office, where visitors must sign-in before entering the school. A staff member will remotely unlock the doors into the school's lobby for all visitors.

"It's going to be a very safe building," Young said. "We want our parents here, but we want to have a safe and monitored building."

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.