James Bickley renovation becomes new building project

File photo Clovis Municipal Schools administration has asked that architects incorporate the front of the current James Bickley Elementary School into a new building for the school if the project is approved by the state.

Liliana Castillo

With cost estimates to renovate James Bickley Elementary School coming in at about $9 million, Clovis schools is planning to build a new school for $1 million more.

The district has been awarded design money by the New Mexico Public Schools Facilities Authority and plans to meet with them and the Public Schools Capital Outlay Council to ask for money for a new building, rather than renovation money.

If the PSFA and PSCOC approve, the district would pay 20 percent of the $10 million for a new building, with 80 percent matched by the state.

Deputy Superintendent of Operations Joel Shirley said if the PSFA approved the building of a new school, the district could forego a complicated plan to move children out of James Bickley and into portables while the building is renovated in sections.

The students could remain in James Bickley while a new building is built on the back portion of its seven acres. Shirley said backing the school away from an ever-busy 14th Street is also a plus.

Superintendent Terry Myers said the 20 percent match on a new school would use the last of bond money raised in the Aug. 2010 bond election.

Shirley said architects have been directed to incorporate the original entrance of James Bickley, or at least elements of it, into the new school.

The board also discussed an elaborate entrance to the Arts Academy at Bella Vista. Featuring a serpentine walkway with the notes of a German folk song along the awning, the entrance could cost between $357,000 to $400,000. Original estimates put the cost at $137,000.

Shirley said the PSFA said they couldn’t participate in the cost of the walkway because it was considered an extravagance. Because of that and the high price tag, the district administration planned to pull the entrance from the project.

Arts Academy at Bella Vista teachers and students attended the meeting because they thought the money for the entrance had already been appropriated and were interested in seeing it come to fruition.

The renovated Arts Academy at Bella Vista will include a performing arts center and, as a magnet school, serves students from throughout the Clovis community. Board members said in that way, spending the money on the entrance could be justified.

“That is an important aspect,” Board Member Charles Guthals said.

Shirley said he has since asked architects on the project to come up with different entrance ideas that celebrate the arts.

Arts Academy music teacher Sara Hennessey said the group attended the meeting to get information on the project. She said the entrance would be an art piece, one that is appropriate for a city that hosts a rock ‘n’ roll festival each year.

“I’m biased toward the arts but people go all over the world to look at art,” Hennessey said. “I think it is a lot of money. We thought the money was already allotted but I wouldn’t want something like this to take money away from students.”

The board was adamant that a revise on the entrance not delay the renovations for the rest of the building.

Shirley said he believes the architects can design a showpiece that is just as grand but “I think we can it more efficiently,” he said.

In other business, the board:

• Approved a consent agenda consisting of bills, activity report, voided check list, Bank of America purchasing card charges, food service report, investment report, budget and expenditure report, budget adjustments and request for bid and proposals for April. The board voted on a request for bid for a contractor for the Bella Vista additions and renovations separately to hear the concerns of teachers and parents about the change in the entrance.

• Recognized Family, Career and Community Leaders of America from Clovis High School and Yucca Middle School who are headed to national competition.

• Discussed the results from the 2009 Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey and approved administering 2011 Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey.

The survey is conducted by the New Mexico Department of Health to determine trends in the behaviors of middle school and high school students relating to dangerous or drug-related behaviors.

At CMS, 187 middle school students and 223 high school students were surveyed. Parents can opt-out their student from taking the survey. The students are chosen at random to take the survey and do so anonymously.

View the results from CMS and the state at www.health.state.nm.us/erd/HealthData/yrrs.shtml.

• Approved a waiver request for the New Mexico High School Competency Exam.

A senior was placed in the Clovis schools in January. The student was not able to take the NMHSCE more than once and did not pass the science and composition portions. However, the student passed all sections on an equal test in Texas and passed all her classes at Clovis schools.

• Approved an alternative governance plan for Lockwood Elementary School.

Public schools use an alternative governance plan if the school does not make Adequate Yearly Progress under the No Child Left Behind act for a certain number of years.

Deputy Superintendent of Instruction Cindy Martin said Lockwood needs more oversight from central office and her instructional team will be meeting with Lockwood staff more often.

• Approved state Bilingual Multicultural Education, Title III and Title I funding applications.

• Approved a leave of absence request. An education assistant request a semester off to perform student teaching.

• Approved a fleet service contract with Adair, Inc. for 2011-2012 and an activity transportation agreement with Adair, Inc. for 2011-2012.

Shirley said Adair is the best transportation contractor in the state.

• Approved authorization for the superintendent to approve end of the year budget transfers.

Chief Financial Officer Jose Cano said the board grants this authorization each year. It allows the financial team to get their budget information approved and to meet deadlines.

• Approved items for auction.

The items to be auctioned off are surplus or can no longer usable in the district.

Cano said state law prohibits public schools from donating unusable items.