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FARMNGTON – New San Juan College construction projects will help make way for the new San Juan College High School and upgrade aging paint booth equipment for the auto body program.

During its meeting on Tuesday, the San Juan College Board approved awarding three projects worth about $521,000 to vendor Cooperative Educational Services, which contracted with Winters Construction in Farmington to complete the work.

The college's Student Activities Area will be moved to a renovated space on the second floor of the Student Center building around the student lounge at a cost of about $167,000.

The new early college high school would move into about 8,200 square feet of renovated space vacated by the Student Activities Area on the first floor of the Learning Commons building.

Both projects are expected to be completed in early August before the start of the college’s fall semester and the start of the first year for the early college high school, college physical plant Interim Director Chris Harrelson said.

According to the presentation shown during a college board work session on Tuesday, about 9,552 square feet of space will be renovated for the Student Activities Area operations.

Office space for the Hispanic Latino Center, work space for students, a reception area and a break room will be built into classroom space on the second floor of the Student Center building.

The college’s law library on the second floor will also be relocated from the Student Center building to a space at the college’s 30th Street campus.

Board members tabled an action item to award a contract of about $118,000 to Cooperative Educational Services to renovate space at the college’s 30th Street campus for the law library, stating it was too expensive. Harrelson said the college is evaluating new less-expensive plans to relocate the law library.

It will cost about $258,000 to convert the former Student Activities Area for the new San Juan College High School.

San Juan College High School will allow students to earn their high school diploma and two years of college credit in four years.

Six classrooms will be built, along with office space and a conference room for instructors or staff members to meet with parents of students, Harrelson said.

The auto body program in the School of Trades and Technology will have a new paint booth and prep station to handle students more efficiently, Auto Body Coordinator Jared Blood said during a presentation on Tuesday.

The current paint booth is about 30 years old and uses older paint chemicals that are not currently used, Blood said.

Safety concerns also reduce the number of students who can use the equipment.

“We’re really struggling to get students in the booth to do tasks they are required to do,” Blood said.

During the Blood’s presentation, Vice President of Learning Barbara Ake told the board members her department has been working with staff members in the Schools of Trade and Technology since 2014 to save the money for the new equipment.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.

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