Superintendent: New middle school only viable option

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

A member of a committee that studied growth issues for Clovis schools says he’s concerned taxpayers aren’t getting a chance to see all the options.

Former Lt. Govenor Walter Bradley said Thursday while a proposed new $30 million middle school is one option, he believes other viable solutions are available and aren’t being fully presented at a series of public meetings staged by Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm.

Seidenwurm says while she appreciates Bradley’s concerns, a middle school remains the only viable option for the school district.

Clovis Schools are looking at a projected increase of more than 2,000 new students over the next three years, largely because of expansion at Cannon AFB.

“We’re in some tough economic times and I don’t see us pulling out of it,” said Bradley. “If you’re spending my money, be prudent. Tell us (all) the options.”

Bradley said the growth committee he sat on also discussed moving freshmen to the Clovis High School campus and using the current Freshman Campus as the new middle school.

Currently, buildings on the campus don’t have the room to house both student bodies.

However, Bradley said a new building could be put up on a three acre plot of land at Thornton and 21st Streets. Also, vacant land on the north side of 21st Street could be purchased to provide more parking.

Seidenwurm said moving the freshmen to the high school campus is not a viable option.

“There simply is no room at the high school campus,” Seidenwurm said. “And if we built a new building on the campus, the tax payers would pay full price for the building.”

State money is available now to pay 80 percent of the cost of a new middle school. Seidenwurm said the school district should be able to handle the rest of the price without raising local taxes.

But Seidenwurm said the Public Schools Facilities Authority has informed the district they would not fund a building on the property named by Bradley.

She also said additions to the high school campus would push back the time frame in which the PSFA would participate in funding a new high school, another top priority for the school district.

“That would be years down the road but the more we do over there now, the farther it will push it,” Seidenwurm said.

Clovis High School currently houses about 1,400 students. Seidenwurm said the high school could house another 200 students, but does not have room for the 575 freshmen.

“At the last meeting (of the growth committee), every person in the room said what we need (now) is a new middle school,” Seidenwurm said.

The next public hearing on the issue is 6 p.m. Monday at Clovis High School. Less than a dozen citizens have attended each of the two previous sessions.