Santa Fe school district plans school construction and renovation projects

Jan. 27, 2009
$160 million sought for school upgrades

The Santa Fe school district needs $160 million.

It seems a stagger ing amount, but district officials say if the general obligation bond and mill levy to raise the funds is approved in the Feb. 3 school election, residents' taxes will not go up. The public would simply be voting to renew a bond and mill levy passed in 2005.

The largest portion of the money, $26.8 million, will go to improve two existing middle schools, now in the process of becoming K-8 schools.

The district's Web site explains that local taxes paid by taxpayers for the district cannot be allocated for repair, modification or construction of facilities. The issuance of general obligation bonds is a way to raise funds for those purposes.

Superintendent Bobbie Gutierrez and her staff have already outlined how the funds would be spent. Some $16 million is earmarked for the new K-8 El Dorado Community school for an initial phase in which second-story classrooms and a new mechanical area are added and the administration area is renovated.

And $10.8 million would go to the new K-8 Gonzales Community School to remove its east wing and add a two-story classroom, and to replace the gymnasium with a cafeteria, also adding parking and a new student drop-off spot.

Another $10.4 million will go to Turquoise Trail Charter School to renovate the old kindergarten into special education classes and a computer laboratory, expand/renovate the library, renovate the cafeteria and bathrooms. The funds would also build two pre-kindergarten, four kindergarten, one art and four special education classrooms and a new auxiliary gymnasium.

"Many of our kindergarten classrooms are not up to standards," said associate superintendent Denise Johnston, "so you'll see a lot of kindergarten rooms" in the list of school facilities to be improved.

Some $10 million is also earmarked for Cesar Chavez Community School to build a kindergarten wing, five classrooms, a music room and auxiliary gymnasium, expand the library, and renovate facilities for art/science, the computer laboratory, kitchen and classroom for special education. The money will also remove portables at the school, renovate the administration area and provide additional staff parking.

"The Cesar Chavez zone actually has about 1,110 kids," said board member Frank Montaño. "It's over its capacity now. The board did rezone to alleviate the overcrowding, but more families have already moved in."

Another $9.5 million would go to Kearny Elementary. Phase I would include removal of the east wing and adding a two-story classroom wing. Other work would include replacing the gymnasium with a cafeteria, a new student drop-off area and parking.

Some $9 million would go to Agua Fria Elementary to build a new cafeteria and gymnasium and renovate the music classroom. Other work would renovate the old cafeteria for two art rooms, the old gymnasium for a library, and the old library for a computer room. The special education program would be moved into a full-size classroom and a half classroom. The portables would be removed. Another $8 million would go to Carlos Gilbert Elementary to build two classrooms, new laboratories for art/science and special education speech, computer equipment area and storage, gymnasium storage/office, occupational/physical therapy room and new bathrooms. The kitchen will be renovated and expanded, and the gymnasium and stage will be renovated. Cooling and electrical service will be added.

At Piñon Elementary, which has 16 portable buildings, $7.5 million in funding would build four kindergarten and four general classrooms, a music room, three additional special education spaces and storage for the cafeteria. The money would also renovate bathrooms and classrooms for art and special education.

At Ramirez-Thomas Elementary/Nye Early Education Center, $7.2 million in funds would renovate the art room for a computer laboratory, and renovate the library and Nye Early Education Center to provide a nap room, activity room, conference room, kitchen, work room and storage. An addition will include four kindergarten classes, art/science, special education ancillary space, library, bathrooms and conference/storage area.

Some 5.3 million at Sweeney Elementary would renovate and expand four kindergartens, two special education rooms, part of the old library and adjacent classroom; renovate classrooms for a computer laboratory, library distribution area, bathrooms, counselor area for two offices and a nurse area. An addition would be built with four general classrooms and art/science classrooms.

At Capital High, $4.6 million would be used to renovate the theater and support space and provide an addition with a theater/classroom and shop.

Some $3 million would go to Atalaya Elementary to enclose a connection between buildings, renovate and expand three kindergarten classrooms, renovate the library to provide a staff development area, build a small addition for a faculty workroom and renovate the administration area.

At Ortiz Middle School, $2.8 million in funds would be used to renovate four classrooms into open science laboratories, renovate/expand the home economics area and to provide an adequate band room without sacrificing theater capability.

Some $1.5 million would go to De Vargas Middle School to renovate the shop into science classrooms and renovate the medically fragile suite.

At Nava Elementary, $283,000 would be used to renovate the existing library.

Another $282,000 would be used at Chaparral Elementary to provide a fire suppression system in the 1970s-era building.

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