Lonnie Leslie, assistant superintendent for operations at Clovis Municipal Schools, points out renovations in a Bella Vista classroom Tuesday during a tour of the city’s schools. CNJ photo: Sue Gilmore
By Sue Gilmore
There are some pretty old schools in Clovis. But, like wine, they keep getting better with age thanks to a decision by the school district to renovate existing structures instead of building new ones.
The improvement process, which began about seven years ago, entailed forming site improvement teams including staff and administration members, teachers, parents, students and local business owners. The district also contracted with the Paul C. Reed Architectural firm to work on a 10-year facilities improvement plan.
School officials recently toured several buildings to assess completed projects and outline future renovations. In part, the school district will use a $5 million bond from the state for the coming year. That money, plus matching funds from the state and additional grants, will enable the school district to make a considerable number of renovations without a tax increase.
“This coming year the state will pay $78 for every $22 we spend,” said assistant superintendent Lonnie Leslie. “We make every effort to try and get money from every available source. When the $8 million bond passed in 2000, we actually received $12 million in improvements without raising taxes.”
While the average age of a Clovis school building is about 46 years, according to Clovis schools superintendent Dr. Neil Nuttall, the ultimate cost of renovating versus new construction is staggering.
“We spent about $1 million on improvements at Sandia with part of the bond in 2000,” he said. “Some of the renovations included new rooftop heating/cooling units, energy-efficient lighting, new paint and new dining tables for the cafeteria. A new elementary school would have cost about $9 million.”
“In most of the buildings, we’ve replaced floor tiles, added carpeting, insulation, acoustical ceiling tiles, fire-coded doors and new paint for classrooms and hallways,” Leslie said. “Some of the schools now have new escape-accessible windows in case of fire or emergency, updated heating/cooling units, new video screens, cabinets and white boards.”
At Clovis High School, renovations include state-of-the-art commercial bakery equipment for the home economics department through a grant from the Carl Perkins foundation and federal monies.
Leslie said the new equipment enables students to provide all the products for The Java Loft in Clovis, and custom-baked goods by order.
A former boiler room on campus has been transformed into a student-run campus store/snack shop through the national District Educational Clubs of America (DECA) program. All profits from the store are split 50-50 with DECA.
According to principal Andrew Sweet, the shop, named The Boiler Room, has been an enormous educational asset to the school.
“Thanks to this store, we can help underwrite some of the school’s clubs,” he said. “We want to see the kids be able to apply their skills here.”
High school renovations will include the addition of new classrooms, a new rehearsal hall, the expansion of the library and the construction of an enclosed fire escape to the second floors of the gym and band hall.
Some of the most serious renovations took place at Gattis Junior High School, where water pipes in the ceilings had suffered major deterioration.
“We’ve been in here for the last two summers,” said architect Paul Reed. “Every thread in the overhead pipes had leaks. The pipes would break and water would spray onto the hallway.”
Leslie said the school district asked the state for $600,000 for those repairs and received $1.2 million, which included money from critical capital and deficit correction funds.
“We’ve done a lot of neat stuff in the last three years, but still have work to do,” said Reed.