Farmington schools set for $26M bond election

McCormick Elementary School expansion is major component of proposed bond election on Feb. 7

Joshua Kellogg
  • If the bond is approved, the district's tax rate will not increase.
  • Projects are scheduled for 15 schools across the district.
  • The McCormick Elementary School project is estimated to cost between $6.9 million and $8.1 million.

FARMINGTON — The proposed renovation and expansion of the 62-year-old McCormick Elementary School is the cornerstone of a $26 million bond election for Farmington schools.

McCormick Elementary School Principal Lyn White and Farmington Municipal Schools Chief of Operations Ted Lasiewicz talk about renovation plans for the building on Thursday.

The proposed bond issue also includes improvements or repairs for nearly every district school.

The Farmington Municipal School District general obligation bond election will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 7 along with school board elections for the Aztec, Bloomfield, Central Consolidated and Farmington school districts.

If the bond is approved, it would not increase property taxes. The district’s tax rate of $9.691 per $1,000 net taxable value of a home would remain in place.

During a tour of McCormick Elementary on Thursday, Principal Lyn White said the school has been open since September 1954. She added while the custodial staff has done a good job of maintaining the building, parts of the structure are worn down and need to be replaced.

Construction on McCormick Elementary School is scheduled to be completed in two phases and is estimated to cost between $6.92 million and $8.11 million. The work is scheduled to be completed in summer 2018 and would allow students to move out of the nine portable classrooms on the school grounds.

The district would pay for the entire project without the assistance of state funding, according to Ted Lasiewicz, the district's director of operations.

Farmington Municipal Schools Chief Operations Ted Lasiewicz gestures while talking about a proposed expansion at McCormick Elementary School on Thursday.

The New Mexico Public School Facilities Authority removed the school from its list of projects for possible state funding last summer. A tour of the school by the PSFA staff in May 2015 found the school in better condition than anticipated.

During the first phase, a new wing of eight classrooms for kindergarten and first grade would be built onto the southwest corner of the building. White said two new sets of bathrooms are included, with a set of restrooms built for kindergarten students.

Phase one is scheduled to be completed by December to allow kindergarten and first-grade teachers to move into their classrooms during the winter break, Lasiewicz said.

Eight classrooms on the east side of the school would be demolished during the second phase of construction. Five new classrooms for fifth-grade and special-education classes would be built. Also included is a new secure entryway, front office space and a computer lab.

The new front entrance and office space would face east toward McCormick School Road and would be located near the current student drop-off area. That area would become a parking lot when the project is finished, according to Lasiewicz.

A new student drop-off lane would be constructed along McCormick School Road this summer.

White said she and the McCormick staff are delighted about the proposed project but know it will be a challenge to teach students with construction work going on during the school day.

A sign alerts voters about an upcoming school bond election on Thursday at McCormick Elementary School in Farmington.

“My concern is that we communicate well with our parents and our kids,” White said.

The $26 million bond would also pay for proposed renovations and repairs at 14 district schools, according to a posting on the district’s website.

Some of the work planned for elementary schools includes a roof replacement for Esperanza and Ladera del Norte, along with replacing the heating and air conditioning systems at Animas and Bluffview. Playground improvements are also planned for all elementary schools but McKinley and Northeast.

Plans at Farmington middle schools include cafeteria renovations for Heights and a roof replacement at Mesa View.

Additional security cameras, lighting and flooring improvements, and upgrades to the biology room are scheduled for Pierda Vista High School.

There are three projects planned for the district administration and operations buildings.

Absentee voting for the school board and Farmington bond elections started on Jan. 13 and runs through Friday, Feb. 3.

Residents can cast in-person absentee ballots from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at the San Juan County Clerk’s Office at 100 S. Oliver Drive in Aztec.

Voters can also request absentee ballots from the County Clerk’s Office until Feb. 3. Absentee ballots are due to the County Clerk's Pffice by 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 7. On election day, the voting convenience centers will also accept the absentee ballots between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

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