Schools focus on renovations

William Thompson

Tucumcari Municipal Schools will be spending nearly 2.5 million dollars on a number of construction and renovation projects over the next year and a half.

The bulk of the funding will come from the New Mexico Public School Facilities Authority. Sonia Raftery, executive assistant to Tucumcari Superintendent of Schools William Reents, Phd., said the state is looking to shore up safety at schools all over New Mexico. ”The state decided that in the interest of safety, it would allocate funding to New Mexico schools,” said Raftery. “We started planning the renovation projects in October 2003, and all the projects should be completed by December 2005. The state has assigned us a construction manager, Olvidiu Viorica, to make sure the work is done right.”

According to Reents, Tucumcari Middle School and Tucumcari High School will see extensive work done to their heating and cooling systems. Tucumcari Elementary School will see a new wing that will house four new kindergarten classrooms. Gymnasiums at both the high school and middle school will undergo extensive renovation. In addition both schools will have interior and exterior work done to their main buildings. The opening for bids on the construction will be June 17. Work is set to begin July 7.
Rattler Gym will have its ceiling insulation replaced and the girls’ locker room will be remodeled. The coaches’ and officials’ offices and dressing rooms will also be redone as will the guest locker and shower room. The entrance way to the gymnasium will also be renovated.

The main high school building will have insulation and windows replaced. Raftery said the new windows will increase safety. “The new windows will be smaller and made of safety glass,” she said. “Also the air conditioning will be run through the walls instead of through windows like it is now.” A major change is due for the high school’s lobby. The large glass trophy case will be replaced according to Raftery. “The glass case presents a safety issue, so we will probably have our wood shop construct a nice wooden trophy case,” she said. “Overall though, the students won’t notice a drastic visual change in the school’s environment. They will be more comfortable, however, due to the new heating and cooling systems.”

The school’s band and chorus building will also have its ventilators replaced and Rhodes Field house will have its furnaces replaced and its girls’ bathroom redone.
Raftery said that another safety measure will be new doors for classrooms and restrooms at the middle school and high school. “The new doors will be solid core doors with an oak veneer,” she said. “They will also be completely accessible to disabled individuals.” Superintendent Reents said all the new changes are necessary to maintain the schools especially in light of the knowledge that the state will not be funding any new buildings for Tucumcari schools in the near future.

“The state told us that we will not be getting any new buildings anytime soon due to the fact that our elementary school is so new.,” said Reents. “We know that we have to take care of what we’ve got, so we looked at the areas that needed work and we chose to hit it head on.”