Clovis schools considering new middle school

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Clovis Municipal Schools is looking into building a new middle school to accommodate an influx of 2,000 students by the 2012-2013 school year.

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

Clovis could be getting a new $30 million middle school.

The plan is still in the discussion stage. But school officials say a new middle school is the top recommendation for handling a flood of new students expected from expansion at Cannon Air Force base.

The school district is anticipating at least 2,000 new students by the 2012-2013 school year.

The students will come from Cannon Air Force Base as well as general growth in the area, said Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm.

A committee was created to analyze the situation and make recommendations to the Board of Education on how to handle the growth.

Seidenwurm said the committee’s number one recommendation is to build a new middle school and make middle schools across the district home to sixth, seventh and eighth grade.

Right now, Clovis middle schools house only seventh and eighth grades.

“This solution would free up room for growth in every elementary school across the district,” she said.

Seidenwurm said the board will be discussing options during a work study session March 31 at Parkview Elementary School.

“We think (a new middle school) is effective. Research shows that sixth grade should be in middle school. With one building, we can tackle growth across the district. Effective and efficient are what we always try to look at,” Seidenwurm said.

The superintendent said the work study session will be used to look at several options on how to accomplish building a new school, including where the school will be built.

“We know that most of the growth is going north so we think we can’t go wrong with a middle school that’s either northwest or northeast,” she said.

Lonnie Leslie, chairman of the growth committee, said the group looked at several possibilities.

“We looked at whether we should build a new elementary school that would handle the growth coming from the base or a middle school,” Leslie said. “Building a new middle school would free up about 30 classrooms in the elementary schools and allow for some growth in the middle schools.”

Leslie said the committee looked at how to spend the least amount of tax dollars while also serving students.

“We were dealing with numbers more than anything else to see what is the most economical thing to do for the taxpayers of Clovis,” Leslie said. “And most educators believe that having sixth through eighth graders grouped together is good for the students.”

Leslie said building a new elementary school would also mean an extensive rezoning of elementary schools in the district.

Deputy Superintendent Joel Shirley said the bulk of the money to build a new middle school would come from the state.

Shirley said Clovis is an 80/20 school — meaning $6 million, or 20-percent of the cost would have to be paid by local taxpayers.

The remaining 80-percent or $24 million needed to build the new school would come from the state.

School officials stressed the $30 million figure is an estimate.