State authority halts Clovis schools renovations

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo The state Public Schools Facilities Authority halted all but one of seven planned school renovation projects in the Clovis school district, pending additional student data. The Marshall Middle School renovation will continue as planned.

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

The New Mexico Public Schools Facilities Authority has put a halt to all but one Clovis Municipal Schools’ planned renovations.

During a board of education meeting Tuesday, Deputy Superintendent of Operations Joel Shirley presented the board with an update on the projects.

The district was planning renovations over the next 10 years at the Arts Academy at Bella Vista, La Casita, Zia, Lockwood, James Bickley and Parkview elementary schools to accommodate growth from the community and Cannon Air Force Base.

The projects were estimated to cost $60 million, with PSFA providing 80 percent of the funding and the district providing 20 percent.

Shirley said the public schools authority is requiring additional student data on all elementary schools in the district before it will provide money for any of the projects.

Known as geocoding, the process will require the district to input the physical address of each student and which school they attend into a database.

Shirley said the project at Marshall Middle School has been given the go-ahead because it is only one of two middle schools in the district.

“This is frustrating and disappointing,” Shirley told the board during his presentation. “But this will take a lot of the guesswork out of it.”

Shirley said while the new requirement will cost the district time, he is glad that they will have solid student data.

“The way I look at it, this is a small cost for a 50-year payout. These are not short-sighted goals,” Shirley said. “This could prove to be exactly the information we need. The numbers we’re going to have will be hard to argue with.”

Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm also said there is an upside to the construction delay.

“For the first time, PSFA is taking a holistic look at the district’s growth. When we expand, it will affect the whole district,” she said.

Seidenwurm said geocoding will also help the state entity carefully spend what is turning into limited funds.

“When you have districts across the state competing for money, they have to make sure they cross their t’s and dot their i’s.”

The geocoding requirement could happen within five weeks, Shirley said, but only if the district used last year’s information.

“If we’re already going to lose time, we might as well get it right,” Shirley said.

Each student will be required to show proof of residency when registering for the next school year to complete the geocoding requirement.

Shirley said he’s hoping to include the Texico, Grady, Melrose and Portales school districts in the geocoding as well.

“The base influx will have a huge regional impact. If we don’t look at it as regional, we’re likely to miss a large chunk of kids,” Shirley said.