State approves funds for facility

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

Portales Municipal School officials received word the state committee that funds school construction has OK’d $11.8 million toward a new elementary school in Portales. The district hopes to match those funds via a September bond election.

On June 12, school officials, along with a team from architect firm Greer Stafford, pitched consolidating Steiner and Lindsey elementary students into one new facility near the current Lindsey site to the Public Schools Capital Outlay Committee in Santa Fe.

Portales Schools superintendent Randy Fowler said the cost for renovating Steiner was estimated at $15 million and Lindsey at $11 million. A new facility to replace the approximately 70-year-old structures is estimated at $16 million.

“We thought it was a good plan to build one school,” Fowler said. “They (PSCOC) didn’t really have a lot of questions about it.”

Fowler said the administration believes having two grades at each of the schools will provide a better flow for the students.
School board member Alan Garrett lauded Fowler for the efforts.

“I think it’s vital that these two rather antiquated facilities be replaced,” Garrett said. “Especially with what’s going on with energy costs.”

Garrett said there’s always a worry that state funding requests will be cut short, but felt comfortable a bond issue would fill gaps.

The district will hold a bond election on Sept. 18 in which it will seek $9.5 million in bonds from voters. The ballot wording, including
the amount, was approved at a previous board meeting in order to meet statutory deadlines.

“We’re asking for that amount because we feel we’ll be using a good portion of that on construction of the new school,” Fowler said.

“Over time, we should still have funds left to address other (facility) concerns in the district.”

Fowler the coming retirement of previous bonds means property taxes shouldn’t change much in the district, if at all. He said he will receive information from the company arranging the bond sale to present to the public before the election.

“I don’t feel like it would be a major change of what’s in place,” Fowler said. “I think it will kind of blend in with what people are used to (paying).

Fowler said the state will dictate the basic requirements of the new facility and provide 79 percent of that cost, even if it rises unexpectedly. The district has to provide the other 21 percent and pay for any extras , such as a larger gym or library or a band room.

Fowler plans to form a community committee to help architects plan the proposed facility in advance of the election.

By the numbers

$11.8 million — Amount state has promised for school

$9.5 million — Amount that would be raised by bond election

$16 million — Estimated cost of new school

$26 million — Cost if Steiner and Lindsey were renovated

70 — Approximate age in years of Steiner and Lindsey

6 — Steiner’s current ranking on state’s list of facility replacement

14 — Lindsey’s current ranking on state’s list of facility replacement

Sept. 18 — Date of bond election

Source: Portales Municipal Schools administration