School board approves facility master plan
A drop in oil and gas valuation limits the ability of Bloomfield schools to fund capital projects.
BLOOMFIELD — Bloomfield School District officials hope to accomplish some of the projects listed in the district’s new five-year facility master plan, but they know it will be difficult to do so with the downturn in the oil and gas industry, which has cut into the district's funding.
The district’s Board of Education approved the 2016-2021 facility master plan during today’s meeting in the board room in the district’s administration office.
State school districts are required to submit a facility master plan every five years to the New Mexico Public School Facilities Authority, according to Director of Operations and Assessment Chuck Culpepper. Projects need to be listed in order of priority in order to use funding from bonds or money generated by local property tax revenue.
“If we don’t have that in the five-year plan, we can’t do anything when the time comes,” Culpepper said in an interview before the meeting.
Trying to fund the projects will be difficult in the next five years, according to Superintendent Kim Mizell.
"Bloomfield is in a difficult situation as far as facilities," Mizell said before the meeting.
The drop in oil and gas tax valuation limits the district’s ability to hold a bond election to raise funds for capital projects. The district is looking to hold a bond election is the 2021-2022 school year, according to Mizell.
The district is using its 2 mill capital outlay fund to pay for repairs and maintenance of district buildings and facilities. The 2 mill fund provides about $2 to $2.25 million a year to the district, according to Culpepper.
A presentation during the board’s Aug. 9 meeting showcased several projects at each Bloomfield school that members of the facility master plan advisory committee identified as priorities.
According to the presentation, advisory board members selected replacing and enlarging the kitchen and cafeteria at Central Primary Elementary School, replacing or enlarging the kitchen and cafeteria at Naaba Ani Elementary School, and installing additional parking spaces at Naaba Ani as top priorities.
Replacing the gymnasium at Blanco Elementary School and renovating the parent drop-off area at Central Primary Elementary School also were labeled as priorities.
Most of the work that is expected to be completed is limited to periodic maintenance of buildings and areas, including parking lots and playground equipment.
Mizell gave credit to former Superintendent Joe Rasor and the district's maintenance department for their effort to maintain the district's facilities, but she said it will be difficult in the future to fund repairs and capital projects.
"We do a good job with what we have, but it is challenging, no matter what we do," Mizell said.
Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.