Bond money would mean new face for Lockwood Elementary

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Lockwood Elementary School teacher Melissa Romero uses a table instead of an adult-sized desk to make room for a crescent-shaped group reading desk in her classroom, that is about half the size of an adequate room.

Liliana Castillo

Teachers at Lockwood Elementary School plan what to teach each day as well as how to get their students from one part of the building to the other.

The building, with its maze of makeshift hallways, is one of six school buildings in the district that could benefit from money raised by a special bond election Aug. 31.

If the issue passes, the $16 million bond will be leveraged into $73 million worth of construction locally with the state match of 80 percent on seven projects, including a third middle school.

Lockwood was originally slated for $13 million worth of renovations. Once the costs rose above 60 percent of the cost to build a new school, however, the Public Schools Facilities Authority began to look at the long term effects of trying to work within the existing building.

“Using the existing building ties our hands in maximizing the space in the building. We’ve been having to build on to it and work with the existing spaces with load bearing walls and trying to make them support the program that would be with in them,” said PSFA Director Bob Gorrell. “With the costs that were required, it wasn’t a big jump in the cost when a building will be used for 50 years.”

Gorrell said he doesn’t anticipate any other buildings in the district requiring replacement. He said the decision to replace a building instead of renovate it happens less and less as standards are upheld in the building process.

Deputy Superintendent of Operations Joel Shirley said the new elementary school will cost about $14.5 million. That translates into $3 million locally and $11.5 million in state matching money.

First grade Lockwood teacher Melissa Romero’s classroom is one of eight rooms created out of an open floor plan used when the building was built in 1971.

Heating and cooling systems were designed for the open space. The district built walls to create classrooms as needed. Heating and cooling had to be adjusted to serve several rooms rather than an open space and Romero said the system doesn’t provide a comfortable atmosphere for students to learn and teachers to teach.

The classrooms created are small, Estrada said, because square foot per student wasn’t a requirement then. Compared to today’s standards of 140 square feet per student for a school of 380, Romero’s classroom that houses 24 students is about half the size it should be.

Romero chose to have a crescent-shaped group reading table rather than a full size desk for herself and utilizes a small table instead.

Romero also said storage for her teaching supplies is limited. Grade levels are separated and small makeshift hallways create congestion.

“A new building would give us more opportunities for our students with the resources we need. It would be a new start,” Romero said.

Office and storage space has also been converted into classroom space.

Longtime Clovis educator G.C. Ross was the first principal of Lockwood and held the post for 15 years. He said he was the last principal at Eugene Field Elementary School, located where the Clovis Area Transit System building is on Seventh Street, which served residents in the south portion of the town.

The district was heading toward a bond election with plans to build Cameo and Barry elementary schools to handle a growth spurt from Cannon Air Force Base.

Residents in south Clovis protested, saying they needed a new school. Eugene Field was built in the early 1900s and still used a furnace. The school board added Lockwood to the bond issue at the last minute and the project was given a different architect and contractor.

“It was built on the cheap,” Ross said. “As soon as we moved into the building, we had sewer problems.”

Ross said the building also had limited maintenance space, no storage and the electrical lines rusted out the water lines.

“We made do,” he said.

Shirley said the current building’s heating and cooling system, roof and electrical systems are worn out and need replacement.

“We’re building a building that will last. It’ll be more energy efficient, a better building,” he said.

Shirley said the district is planning to acquire 15 acres just north of the school from retired farmer Gary Lockmiller. Shirley said Lockmiller’s father gave the school the land for the original building and his son is following suit.

Construction to be funded by bond money:

• Arts Academy at Bella Vista will be renovated throughout, receive energy upgrades, the addition of performing arts center, the addition of 11 classrooms to replace portables, parking lot and safety improvements for traffic control. Construction to begin Dec. 2010 and be completed by Aug. 2012. Total project cost is $9,295,000 with district funds needed of $1,936,136, and a state match of $7,997,215.

• James Bickley Elementary School is halfway through the design process for addition of three kindergarten classrooms, renovations through out the building, Americans with Disabilities Act compliance in restrooms, energy upgrades to the lighting and improvement to the traffic flow around the building. Construction to begin Aug. 2011 and be completed July 2013. Total project cost is $6,654,757 with district funds needed of $1,184,003 and a state match of $5,470,754.

• La Casita Elementary School will receive the addition of a multipurpose room, nine classrooms, new roofing, renovations through out the building up to today’s adequacy and energy standards, traffic flow and parking lot renovations for safety. Construction to begin Oct. 2010 with completion May 2012. Total project cost is $9,295,000 with district funds needed of $1,936,136 and a state match of $7,358,864.

• Lockwood Elementary School will be replaced with a new building. The New Mexico Public Schools Facility Authority approved replacement over renovation July 30. Costs were so high to renovate because of problems with the roofing system and infrastructure. The district will acquire land close to the existing site and students will remain in the building until the new building is complete. Estimates for repair and renovations was $13 million and the district can build a new school for $14.5 mill with the local share being $3 million and the state match of $11.5 million.

• Zia Elementary School will receive a new roof. The district is reviewing the original plan of classroom and multipurpose room additions because of complexity of other issues in the district. Also, completion of a new middle school may impact enrollment and the classrooms may not be needed. Total project cost is $1,502,742 with district funds needed of $483,066 and a state match of $1,019,676.

• Marshall Middle School will receive complete replacement of the severe and profound special education building, renovations through out the north building classrooms to adequacy, cafeteria and kitchen renovations and replacement, the courtyard area will be renovated and replaced to adequacy, addition of a nurses office and teacher work room. Construction to begin Sept. 2010 with completion Aug. 2012. Total project cost of $8,328,533 with district funds needed of $1,565,938 and a state match of $6,762,595.

• A new middle school is planned to hold 900 students in a two phase project. The first phase will include classrooms for 450 with core areas for 900 students. The second phase will add classroom space for another 450. The district will choose between two sites in north Clovis. The sites are:

• A site for donation of 40 acres at the north west corner of Wilhite and Thornton streets owned by Clovis developer Sid Strebeck.

• A site for purchase of up to 47 acres at the south west corner of Llano Estacado and Thornton streets owned by the Burns family, who purchased the land in 1959.

Construction of the new middle school is scheduled to begin Aug. 2011 for completion May 2013 to be open for students Aug. 2013. Total cost is $30 million with district funds needed of $6 million and a state match of $24 million.