School board approved plan during May 25 meeting

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FARMINGTON — The old Tibbetts Middle School property that served as the first home for Farmington High School and San Juan College soon could be on the market for a new owner.

The Farmington Municipal School District Board of Education approved the potential sale of the existing property at 312 E. Apache St. during a special board meeting on May 25, according to Superintendent Gene Schmidt.

The next step will be submitting a plan by or around June 28 to the state Board of Finance for approval, according to Ted Lasiewicz, the district's chief of operations. If approved, the district plans to advertise the sale and take sealed bids.

That follows a Oct. 26 decision made by the school board to rescind the decision to relocate the Farmington Family School program from Northeast Elementary School to the old Tibbetts property. The program allows students in kindergarten through sixth grade to split instruction time between a district classroom and home.

Members of the school board initially approved the relocation during a July 13 meeting.

Lasiewicz told board members during the Oct. 26 meeting that it would cost about $1.5 million to prepare the site for the school, along with additional costs of more than $150,000 for technology expenses and about $600,000 to $700,000 in personnel costs, according to the minutes of the board meeting.

The costs for the project grew to a level that it was no longer feasible to create an alternative learning site for the family school program, Schmidt said.

Regarding the sale of the old Tibbetts property, Schmidt said the district has seen some prospective buyers start to emerge, which led him to recommend the sale to board members.

The site is 7.65 acres, and the structure containing a library, two classrooms and restrooms is listed at 5,425 square feet, according to school board documents.

Most of the nearly 90,000-square-foot building that was constructed in 1939 or 1940 has been demolished.

The building has served many purposes since it opened.

It housed the original Farmington High School and the first group of San Juan College students when that school was founded as New Mexico State University's San Juan branch.

The district was paying about $70,000 a year to maintain and operate the site before much of the structure was demolished, Schmidt said.

It costs the district about $25,000 to $30,000 a year insure and maintain the property following the demolition.

"I think that the community needs to understand we are trying to value taxpayers' funding and put that money into the education of kids," Schmidt said.

Demolishing the old structure was part of the agreement the district made to build the new Tibbetts Middle School campus along Twin Peaks Boulevard, which opened for the 2013-2014 school year.

The old Tibbetts building housed students from Hermosa Middle School during the 2014-2015 school year as Hermosa underwent extensive expansion and renovation.

The money raised by the sale of the property could be used for other capital projects, Lasiewicz said.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

More: Demolition starts on old Tibbetts Middle School campus

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