Northeast, Hermosa schools start two days late
FARMINGTON — Northeast Elementary School Principal Candace Young said she jumped for joy when she entered the school's new $19.3 million building Monday while workers saw to the finishing touches.
Young was unpacking items for her office before teachers reported back to school on Wednesday after the district received the certificate of occupancy on Monday afternoon.
"We're so happy. It's a fabulous facility," Young said. "I feel like this is a state-of-the-art safe building."
Students at Northeast Elementary and Hermosa Middle schools will start school two days later than the rest of the district on Thursday, Aug. 20, according to Superintendent Gene Schmidt. Schmidt said in an email that late start will give teachers and administrators sufficient time to prepare for the arrival of students.
The 76,928-square-foot building is about 21,000 square feet larger than the old 55,912-square-foot building that opened in 1959. The new building will accommodate 600 students in 40 classrooms.
Northeast Elementary was designed and constructed in about 18 months — a similar time line to that of Hermosa Middle school, according to district Chief of Operations Ted Lasiewicz.
He said it was a challenge to finish both projects, which totaled an investment of about $38.8 million, for the start of the fall semester.
"We had the goal of making sure that all of the students, both middle school and elementary, were given what we promised them — a new, state-of-the-art facility that is safety first," Lasiewicz said.
During a tour of Northeast on Monday led by Lasiewicz, the interior work was nearly complete as crews focused on installing playground equipment and finishing the parking lot facing Zuni Street.
The new building has an U-shape design around a courtyard, and designated areas for bus and parent drop-off. The two-story classroom wings have kindergarten, and first- and second-grade classrooms on the first floor with the remaining grades on the second floor.
Lasiewicz said the architecture firm FBT Architects and contractor the Jaynes Corp. did a good job of integrating stucco, stainless steel and masonry into the building's exterior.
Entering through the school's front entrance, students will see the cafeteria and gymnasium before entering the hallways to classrooms. The cafeteria has floor-to-ceiling windows with a view of the main playground and concrete basketball courts.
Similar to the design work on the renovated Hermosa Middle School across the street, improving safety was a priority at the new school. All exteriors doors will be locked while classes are in session. Visitors will have to enter the front office and sign in before the staff can remotely unlock the office door to allow entrance. Kindergarten students have their own playground area on the south side of the school with the classroom doors opening directly to the play area.
Only one wall was left of the old building on Monday after four weeks of demolition work.
When the demolition work is completed, workers will lay down sod grass to install a field to connect the new building to the track on the north side of the school grounds.
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