Demolition starts on old Tibbetts Middle School campus
District officials developing plan for new K-8 school at site
FARMINGTON — Demolition has begun on the old Tibbetts Middle School campus, signifying the end of a more than 75-year-old structure that has served a variety of roles in local education.
Members of the Coronado Wrecking and Salvage Company Inc. started demolition this week on the 90,000-square-foot building built around 1939 or 1940, according to Ted Lasiewicz, the district's chief of operations.
The district's Board of Education approved a $339,120 demolition bid by the company during the July 13 board meeting.
About 90 to 95 percent of the school will be demolished, Lasiewicz said.
The library, two classrooms and restrooms near the library will remain.
The campus track and field will be kept, and will remain open during the demolition process, which is projected to end in November.
The school has existed in many forms through the years. It housed the original Farmington High School until 1958.
It also housed the first group of students for San Juan College in 1956, when the college was founded as the New Mexico State University's San Juan branch before later changing its name.
Former assistant superintendent of operations James Barfoot said the construction of the campus was started as part of the Works Progress Administration, an agency formed as part of the New Deal by then President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Tibbetts staff members and students relocated to a new campus built on the west side of Farmington on Twin Peaks Boulevard at the start of the 2013-2014 school year.
The Tibbetts campus housed students and staff members from Hermosa Middle School for the 2014-2015 school year as the Hermosa campus underwent extensive renovation and expansion.
Board members also voted during the July 13 meeting to relocate the Farmington Family School program from Northeast Elementary School to a campus to be built on the old Tibbetts property, according to the board minutes.
The program founded during the 2016-2017 school year allows students in kindergarten through sixth grade to split their instruction time between home and a district classroom.
The Farmington-based firm Rodahl and Hummell Architecture was selected to conduct the design work.
Six double-classroom trailers being used at Farmington High School will be relocated to the old Tibbetts campus on East Apache Street, Lasiewicz said. The district hopes to open the campus for the 2019-2020 school year.
The cost of the project has not been determined, but Lasiewicz said funding would come from the $26 million bond measure approved by residents during a Feb. 7 election.
Superintendent Gene Schmidt said the district is planning to submit a school reorganization plan this school year to the New Mexico Public Education Department for a kindergarten through eighth-grade school based on the family school program.
Enrollment in the program is projected to outgrow the space available at Northeast Elementary in the next couple of years, according to Schmidt. A total of 134 students are enrolled in the program for this school year, and as many as 245 students are projected for the 2020-2021 school year.
The district is also developing plans for a virtual online school for homebound students in kindergarten through eighth grade that could be based out of the proposed East Apache Street campus, Schmidt said.
Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.