Education column: School funds go to much-needed projects

Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy

People sometimes wonder what happens to the dollars that go into our schools.

Lots of wonderful things are accomplished throughout the school year and during the summer. School improvements are ongoing, from year to year, but recent bonds are allowing us do some of the much-needed projects that have been waiting for the necessary resources. The process sometimes seems never-ending and is always a challenge, especially when setting priorities.

One upcoming project that everyone is excited about is the work that will soon begin at Marshall Middle School. This wonderful old building has been around since before World War II, and my mother used to share stories of attending the first eighth-grade class at Marshall in 1936.

Within the next few weeks, there will be an official groundbreaking, or rather a building demolition ceremony, at Marshall Middle School campus, where officials will be swinging a gold sledgehammer. (By the way, that’s spray paint, not solid gold). And, don’t worry … nothing historic is being affected!

The building in question, Marshall’s special education building, was added to the campus back in the 1970s and will shortly be torn down and replaced altogether. This has been greatly needed for some time now, and all involved are eagerly anticipating the prospect of an up-to-date facility.

The new building will be state-of-the-art, including facilities to allow special education teachers to better serve their students, especially those in wheelchairs and on walkers. They’ll have the necessary learning environment to teach these students the life skills for they’ll need for living as independently as possible. The building design includes some unique features, for example, window designs to allow for as much natural lighting as possible — better to work in, as well as energy cost effective.

Besides the SPED building, the cafeteria will undergo extensive modernization, and the band and choir rooms will be replaced, along with the remainder of essential remodeling and updating that was begun at Marshall several years ago; also, the portable classrooms will disappear. Hurrah!

At other schools, work has continued; roofs have been funded for replacement, for example, at the Clovis High School cafeteria, the Rock Staubus complex and the CHS Freshman Academy. Roof repair and replacement is an ongoing task at any school district, but standards have improved: Those now replaced are fitted with insulation and constructed with a specified degree of slope to ensure proper drainage.

“We have to plan for 40-year solutions,” explains Gene Bieker, executive director of operations, a veteran of the district for the last 13 years.

Along with Robert Telles, construction and safety coordinator, the operations department carefully plans projects so that they’re the least intrusive for students, but sometimes certain tasks have to take place while school is in session.

As Bieker tells schools, “We’re coming to help you, but you’re going to hate us; it might get a little noisy and dusty.”

A little dust? Not to worry. Keep up the good work, CMS Operations and Public Schools Facility Authority. We appreciate all you’re doing for our students.

Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy is the Instructional Technology Coordinator for the Clovis Municipal Schools and can be reached at