School works towards master plan

By Tony Parra

Chris Rasmussen, an architect, is working on a master plan to help Portales Schools officials figure out the future and the school system’s need for space to accommodate for a growing school district.
Rasmussen, who works with Greer-Stafford Architects of Albuquerque, said another big reason for the master plan is so that it would be available for New Mexico Public School Facilities Authority members to see, and could help in future funding requests.
“With changes taking place in the district, more schools are asked to depend on limited needs,” Rasmussen said. “The master plan will be justification to provide funding for the school district by the state.”
The enrollment for the Portales Schools District has risen in the last three years. The enrollment was 2,783 in 2002-03, 2,905 in 2003-04 and 2,931 in 2004-05.
Freshman numbers are down from 234 in 2002-03 to 203 in 2004-05. However, the sophomore, junior and senior classes have all seen increases of at least 14 students within the same time period.
Rasmussen said he and his assistants are in the process of getting a demographer from the University of New Mexico to help with the master plan. Rasmussen said the demographer will be in charge of predicting future enrollment trends.
He said the Portales Schools District was one of three school districts selected to have a demographer paid for by the New Mexico Public Education Department. The other two were the Dexter and Ruidoso school districts.
He said the demographer will look at enrollment, economy and population trends in the community. Rasmussen said the goal is to have the master plan completed by late summer or early fall.
Rasmussen is also responsible for the architectural work to the addition to Brown Elementary which will go on the north side. Rasmussen said advertising for construction bids has already been done. He said he will meet with Brown Elementary Jackie Burns later in the month and interested contractors will begin taking tours of the site in June.
Teachers in the school district are also finding other ways to bring in money for their classes.
Melanie Chambers, a sixth-grade teacher at Lindsey Elementary, received a $3,000 grant to be used for the Lindsey students in the fall.
Chambers said the deadline for the applications was in March for the Public Service Company grant. Mary Murray, Joeli Cathey and Josie Thomas, James Elementary teachers, worked in the grant-writing process for a $2,990.64 grant for equipment and books for biology.
Marea Smith was awarded a $2,944 grant. Smith was awarded the 2005-06 Center for Teaching Excellence Action Research Grant to be used for instructional equipment purchases for Steiner Elementary.
District Superintendent James Holloway said the teachers took the time to fill out the paperwork required and were able to receive the funding.
“The money doesn’t just go to them (teachers),” Holloway said. “It’s money they go after to provide equipment to children in their classroom.”