Board hears revised school renovation plan

The new proposed plan includes construction of 13 classrooms, a front office and an entrance to the school

Joshua Kellogg,

FARMINGTON — A proposal to renovate substantial portions of McCormick Elementary School has been scaled down in favor of a less-costly plan to add new classrooms and relocate the front office.

Lead teacher Karen Begay shows off a classroom Thursday at McCormick Elementary School in Farmington, which could see extensive renovations under a plan being presented to the school board.

The Board of Education for the Farmington Municipal School District was given a presentation on the project by representatives of FBT Architects, the Albuquerque-based firm hired to produce the plans, during a work session Thursday afternoon.

The new proposal calls for the construction of 13 classrooms, a new front office and an entrance, along with a new parent drop-off area just north of the school. The additions would help move students out of the nine portable classrooms that have been installed on the school grounds.

McCormick Principal Lyn White said the proposed project was a fabulous plan.

“We’ll have room for all of our kids inside the school instead of in portables,” White said.

SanJay Engineer and Jeremy Trumble of FBT Architects described their progress on the proposed plan to the board members.

Originally, district officials were exploring five design options to renovate and/or expand the school building with an option to construct a new building.

Custodian Jerry Whittington cleans a classroom at McCormick Elementary School in Farmington on Thursday.

The five options ranged in cost from $20.5 million to $25.8 million, according to board paperwork.

But state organizations associated with providing funds for school construction declined to participate in the McCormick project last summer. A visit by the members of the New Mexico Public School Facilities Authority, one of those organizations, found the school was in better condition than the organization had thought.

That setback led district and FBT officials to begin exploring more modest plans for the building.

The proposed cost of the new project is between $6.92 million and $8.11 million, according to Trumble. Funds for the project would come from a proposed $26 million bond election scheduled for early 2017, if it is approved by voters.

“It’s long overdue,” Board Deputy Secretary Bill Young said the renovation. “I’m excited for the new renovation.”

The new plan will cover some of the capital improvement projects identified in the district’s proposed update to the 2014-2019 facility master plan. The facilities and school grounds at McCormick were rated the worst in the district by Architectural Research Consultants Inc., the firm that conducted the update to the facility master plan.

Some students at McCormick Elementary School in Farmington are housed in these temporary classrooms.

Work on the proposed renovations and new construction is split into two phases.

The first phase of the proposed work will add a new wing of eight classrooms for kindergarten and first grade on the southwest corner of the school building. Engineer said new playground equipment would be installed and age-appropriate restrooms would be built.

During the second phase, eight classrooms are scheduled to be demolished on the east side of the school. Two new fifth-grade classrooms and three new special education classrooms will be built in their place. A new secure entrance and front office space will be constructed just south of the renovated fifth-grade and special education classrooms.

The project is expected to come before the board members for approval in a spring 2017 meeting following the proposed $26 million bond election.

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