Board to choose from seven sites for middle school

Liliana Castillo

The Clovis school board is expected to decide Tuesday on one of seven sites being considered for a proposed new middle school.

The district is planning a third middle school to handle district-wide growth, much of it due to expansion at Cannon Air Force Base.

The district has scheduled a special bond election Aug. 31.

Some money raised from the bond issue will be used as the school district’s 20 percent match of $6 million toward the $30 million school. The remaining $24 million is coming from the New Mexico Public School Facilities Association.

The bond issue would not create a new tax or raise existing taxes, according to the board.

The ballot question for the bond issue reads: “Shall the Clovis Municipal School District issue $16,000,000 of general obligation bonds to erect, remodel, make additions to and furnish school buildings, purchase or improve school grounds, purchase computer software and hardware for student use in public schools, provide matching funds for capital outlay projects funded pursuant to the Public School Capital Outlay Act or any combination of these purposes?”

The district began evaluating three possible gifts of land in February.

The three sites were:

• 40 acres at Pleasant Hill Highway and Humphrey Road owned by Clovis Developer Sid Strebeck;

• 30 acres at North Prince Street and Wilhite Road owned by the Hartley family corporation, including Judge Teddy Hartley;

• As much as 50 acres at Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard and Llano Estacado Boulevard owned by Arizona developer Travin Pennington.

School board members chose the Strebeck site June 8 on a 3-1 vote. President Mark Lansford voted no and Member Lola Bryant was absent. Lansford said he opposed the site because spending $1.5 million on infrastructure development — roads and utilities — would be too costly.

Lansford also questioned why the district didn’t evaluate 40 acres it already owns along east 21st Street just west of Humprey Road.

Deputy Superintendent of Operations Joel Shirley and Interim Superintendent G.C. Ross have said the 21st Street site is too close to Yucca Middle School, has drainage issues and would create traffic issues when combined with neighbor Clovis Christian School.

“That site was intended for a second high school,” Ross said. “That was before state regulations. The district was hoping to trade the land for land north of Llano.”

According to state recommendations:

• High schools require 80 acres minimum.

• Middle schools require 20 acres plus one acre per 100 students. That means the proposed third middle school would need a minimum of 29 acres.

• Elementary schools require 10 acres minimum.

After the board vote in June, community members, along with the political group the High Plains Patriots, claimed the decision served private interests and was costly to the public.

Last week, the board held a meeting to hear those concerns and possibly reconsider their vote. The board eventually postponed action until this week to give members time to consider four more new sites being offered for the school.

Board members said they needed an in-depth analysis of costs to the city, county and state for developing each site.

The board is expected to choose from seven sites; the three originals offered for free, the 21st Street site owned by the district, and:

• 47 acres at Thornton Street and Llano Estacado owned by the Burns family, who homesteaded in the area in the early years of Clovis.

• Up to 40 acres on Llano Estacado west of Thornton owned by Jean Sealey and Max Keslo

• 40 acres at Thornton and Wilhite streets owned by Strebeck.