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FARMINGTON — The Farmington Municipal School Districts's award-winning maintenance program may have unintentionally hampered efforts to receive state funding to help renovate McCormick Elementary School.

The proposed $22.5 million project was removed from a list of projects vying for state funding following a visit by the New Mexico Public School Facilities Authority last month.

District superintendent Gene Schmidt briefed Board of Education members during a June 11 meeting. He said authority representatives toured the school on May 12 and discovered it was in better condition than they anticipated.

"In the course of the walkabout, they found out that their information was different than what the condition of the building actually looks like," Schmidt said during the meeting.

Ted Lasiewicz, the district's director of operations, said the Facility Condition Index of the school improved from 50.33 percent to 25.01 percent.

The Facility Condition Index rates the percentage of systems and components in a building — from the building's foundation to the paint on the walls — that need to be replaced.

"It's quite unfortunate, we were looking forward to participation in funding from the state for the design process," Lasiewicz said.

McCormick elementary was built about 65 years ago with seven additions built in the last six decades.

Lasiewicz said 75 schools most in need of repairs are on the New Mexico Condition Index, which is maintained by the authority. And schools with a Facility Condition Index of more than 50 percent were considered. McCormick elementary was one of six schools selected statewide.

The district's maintenance department has won the Ben Luján Gold Award four of the last five years for their work on district buildings and for employing some of the best practices in the state. The Ben Lujan Gold Award is presented by the authority and Cooperative Educational Services, an organization representing New Mexico's school districts and other public education institutions.

Lasiewicz described the change in the Facility Condition Index as a conundrum.

"On one hand, we get an award for doing an excellent job of maintaining our facilities but on the other, we're penalized," Lasiewicz said.

Lasiewicz along with Sanjay Engineer of FBT Architects led a lengthy presentation and discussion during the April 23 school board work session.

Five design options were presented to the board to remodel and/or expand the school building along with an option to construct an entirely new building.

The district will keep everything prepared for the project in case the situation changes.

"I'm hoping the council will consider some re-evaluation on how they are making these assessments and give credit to those school districts that are doing a great job of maintaining their schools," Lasiewicz 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.

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