Opening of new Kirtland school delayed
KIRTLAND – Construction workers have made major progress on the new Judy Nelson Elementary School in Kirtland, although delays have pushed the school’s opening date to next year.
The new 90,000-square-foot, $20 million school on the site of the old Ruth N. Bond Elementary School is now scheduled to open on Jan. 17, 2017, according to Dennis Fieldsted, building and construction coordinator for the Central Consolidated School District. The school originally was scheduled to open in August for the start of the 2016-2017 school year.
Preparing the old Ruth N. Bond building for asbestos removal and demolition took longer than anticipated, Fieldsted said. Students participating in summer school at Ruth N. Bond last year were unable to move into portable classrooms installed at the nearby Grace B. Wilson Elementary School.
The use of 11 double portable buildings installed at Grace B. Wilson was delayed as the district waited for approval to use the buildings from the State Fire Marshall’s Office.
The asbestos removal delayed the demolition work by contractor FCI Constructors Inc. until Oct. 12, 2015, Fieldsted said. State funding for the project also was delayed.
Fieldsted said some of the funding from the New Mexico Public School Facilities Authority to help pay for the new school was delayed two months in early 2015. The PSFA is funding 69 percent of the $20 million project while the district pays for the remaining 31 percent.
While on a tour of the under construction elementary school on Tuesday, Scott Klassen, a superintendent at FCI Constructors, said he thinks the project is going very well.
“We had a rough start with the winter months,” Klassen said. “I’m optimistic we’ll finish the project on time.”
Most of the building’s structural steel and foundation work has been completed, according to Klassen. Workers will finish pouring the last portion of the concrete foundation next week.
Fieldsted said all the underground utilities, including electric and water lines, have been installed, as well.
The two-story structure will have 40 classrooms built to house about 715 students in kindergarten through sixth grade.
Klassen said one wing of the school connects to the Ruth N. Bond gymnasium and music room, the only remaining portions of the demolished school.
The project also includes a new road that will be built north of the school to allow parents picking up or dropping off students to exit directly onto U.S. Highway 64.
Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.