New schools set for completion in May

Construction of two new Clovis schools should be complete in five to six weeks and renovations of two Clovis schools are done, according to Jody Balch, Clovis Municipal Schools deputy superintendent of operations

CNJ staff photo: Benna Sayyed

Clovis Municipal Schools Deputy Superintendent of Operations Jody Balch, left, speaks to members of the Clovis Plains Rotary Club about the main gym Thursday at the new W.D. Gattis Middle School. Balch said school construction should be complete in about five weeks.

Clovis News Journal staff toured the new W.D. Gattis Middle School, the new Lockwood Elementary School, and renovations of The Arts Academy at Bella Vista and La Casita Elementary on Thursday. The following is a report from the tour.

Upon entering the front entrance of the Gattis campus, located at Wilhite and Thornton on the city's northside, an expanse of concrete driveways, walkways and parking lots is visible. Every inch of outdoor pavement of the 130,000 square foot campus is concrete. CMS officials opted to use concrete instead of asphalt because it is cheaper, according to Balch.

"It's all about pre-planning," said Bradbury Stamm Superintendent Tony Dorwart, who supervised the construction of Gattis.

"By the time we get close to completion all issues have been worked out. I give my guys ample time to do their work. If they're worried about meeting the deadlines they work weekends or do whatever it takes to meet the (completion) schedule."

Here are highlights of the new Gattis campus:

  • The facility is designed for sixth through eighth grades, with capacity for 900 students. It is the biggest project in size and price — 130,000 square feet and a $34 million project.
  • The facility uses only geothermal energy.
  • There are windows from the ceiling to the floor of nearly every room to allow natural light in.
  • The inside floors are polished concrete, designed for quick and easy cleaning.
  • There is a large outdoor courtyard in the center of the school that will contain trees and covered picnic tables that students can use to eat lunch and visit. The area will also be used for school assemblies.
  • Most of the classrooms are 750 to 900 square feet in size. Special education classrooms are up to 1,200 square feet . A classroom's size is based on students' needs.

Here are highlights of the new Lockwood campus:

  • The facility is designed for 364 students in grades kindergarten through fifth grade.
  • The campus is 56,000 square feet.
  • The facility cost $13.5 million.
  • The facility is L-shaped, designed to allow better student traffic flow.

Here are highlights of renovations at La Casita:

  • The project costs $8.5 million.
  • The facility's new cafeteria contains modern-style dining tables and colorful graphics positive Spanish and English affirmations on the walls.
  • The building's front entrance was crafted to resemble an aluminum store front entrance.

"The old Lockwood Elementary is small, outdated and not convenient," Balch said.

Balch said the old building used a pod system for classrooms, which created small hallways, making it hard to get around. He said the new campus could also encourage neighbors to keep the neighborhood clean.

Here are highlights of renovations at the Arts Academy of Bella Vista:

  • The project cost $10 million.
  • Twelve new class rooms have been added to the school.
  • A makeover of the facility's exterior cost $400,000. The outside renovation includes new stucco, new soffits, new lighting in the soffits, new campus sidewalks and a new school entryway.
  • The performing arts center is 5,000 square feet.

"That theater is really hard to beat," Balch said.

"Having this kind of stage, with curtains, a sound system, and bleachers … it's truly made for performing arts."

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