Clovis Schools repair tag: $106 million

Gene Bieker, director of operations for Clovis Schools, said the air-conditioner units at Lockwood Elementary School are more than 30 years old. (CNJ Staff Photo: Tony Bullocks)

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

A forward-looking assessment shows the Clovis Municipal Schools district needs approximately $106 million in capital improvements.

The Facilities Master Plan draft report was released in December and presented to Clovis Schools Board of Education Feb. 27.

“Every (need) we could possibly conceive of is in this plan,” Clovis Schools Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm said during the meeting.

An updated draft of the report, prepared by Architectural Research Consultants of Albuquerque, should be released Tuesday, according to Clovis Schools Director of Operations Gene Bieker. The board will decide whether to adopt the plan on April 10, he said.

Districts are mandated to prepare Facilities Master Plans by the state. A state department uses the reports to guide appropriation of capital improvement money.

The state also ranks all state school buildings, and usually, the top 100 neediest are given funding for capital improvements, according to Clovis Schools officials.

“We shoot to have our buildings in the top 100 because (then) our probability of getting funding is good for that year,” Bieker said.

Securing state funding for projects not included in the plan is nearly impossible, Bieker said. Therefore, the plan is a thorough assessment that considers current and future needs. Districts update plans every five to seven years, Bieker said.

Bieker said the estimate of capital improvement needs in the district will significantly increase in the final version of the Clovis Schools Facilities Master Plan.
He said Clovis Schools administrators want the plan to “cover all the bases” so securing funding is easier.

In the draft’s measure of the physical condition and functionality of sites and facilities, most facilities in the district scored in the “satisfactory” range, with the exception of Mesa Elementary School, which scored in the “excellent” range.

Choices alternative high school scored lowest because it lacks educational specialty and support spaces, according to the draft. Choices operates in a space leased from a local church.

In the draft’s ranking of capital improvement needs, a new building for Choices ranked highest, followed by additions for the Clovis High School and renovations of portables. Other renovation work ranked fourth; refurbishing projects ranked fifth; site improvements to traffic and play areas ranked sixth; and improvements to special systems, roofs, and heating, air conditioning and ventilation ranked eighth.
School administrators plan to prioritize their needs annually and incrementally receive funding for capital improvements.

In the state ranking of schools in need of capital improvement, La Casita Elementary ranks 16th, making it the school most in need of improvement in the district.

Administrators want to add 12 classrooms to La Casita, as well as Parkview, Bella Vista, Lockwood and Sandia elementaries. They also want to add multi-purpose rooms to La Casita and Bella Vista; replace water service at Parkview; add a kitchen addition to Lockwood; add geothermal HVAC units to all schools; and do roofing work at Lincoln-Jackson Family Center, Highland Elementary, Clovis High School, Gattis Junior High School, Ranchvale, La Casita, Bella Vista, James Bickley, Barry, Cameo, the central office and the Yucca auxiliary gym.

Clovis Schools Board of Education Vice President Max Best called the master plan “a valuable piece of work” filled with important information about the district’s facilities.

Board member Lora Harlan said good maintenance has kept Clovis Schools facilities in “better shape than other districts” considering the age of the facilities.

But board members also lamented being mandated by the state to rank capital improvement needs because circumstances at schools could easily change.

Harlan said the plan “really takes away from the authority of the local district to make choices on what’s needed in their district.”

“If (we) want to change (our) priorities, we are not in a position to do that,” she said.

Capital outlay needs
• Elementary schools: $40 million
• Junior High Schools: $29 million
• High School: $17 million
• Alternative School: $12 million
• Administrative/Support: $8 million
• Total Cost: $106 million
*Numbers are rounded to the nearest million

Fast facts
The Clovis Municipal Schools district:
• Covers an area of 454 square miles.
• Is the 74th largest district in land area of 89 school districts in New Mexico.
• Maintains 17 traditional school facilities, one early childhood school, one alternative high school, and four administration/support facilities on 23 separate sites.
• Had the 10th largest enrollment in the state for the 2005-2006 school year.
• Had 8,060 students in grades K-12, as of 40th day of enrollment in the 2006-2007 school year.

By the numbers
1,171,000 — Gross square feet in permanent Clovis Schools facilities
66,200 — Square feet in portable Clovis Schools facilities
38 — Permanent buildings comprising Clovis Schools
49 — Portable buildings owned by Clovis Schools
1997 — Year the last new school, Los Ninos Early Intervention, was built
1932 — Year the oldest school, Marshall Junior High School, was built

Source: Clovis Schools