Middle school site raises concerns

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

Citizens brought concerns about the site chosen for the new middle school to the Clovis Municipal School board of education Tuesday.

On June 8, the board chose a 40-acre plot of land from three gifts of land. The site is on Pleasant Hill Highway and Humphrey Road and owned by Clovis developer Sid Strebeck.

Members of the local political group Taxed Enough Already were at the meeting Tuesday, questioning who would pay to maintain state and county roads leading to the land, which is two miles outside city limits. Some members of the group also questioned who would pay for utilities to be expanded to the property and how the school would be policed.

Kim Runyan, a member of the TEA group, said the group’s concerns are based on fiscal responsibility.

“There are unaddressed questions,” she said. “This is our money that will be allocated to do these things.”

The Pleasant Hill Highway property doesn’t have access to utilities, and it will cost $1.3 million to extend them to the property, according to architects for the project.

Runyan said it seems like an unnecessary cost considering the district owns 40 acres of land on 21st Street with infrastructure already in place.

“That’s cost there that I’m not sure we (can afford),” she said.

Runyan and former Clovis Mayor David Lansford asked the board seek public comment on the site selection. Lansford asked that the board rethink their decision. He calculated an estimated $20 million associated with the property, which included expanding North Prince Street to a four-lane road, adding traffic lights and bringing utilities to the property.

Secretary Max Best said the $1.3 million to bring utilities to the property will be recouped in future hook-up fees when the district sells plots of land in a subdivision that is planned around the plot.

Lansford also said that the placement of the new school will accentuate disproportionate growth in the city.

He said that the west side of town doesn’t have the sewer capacity to support growth and will continue to hamper even growth in the city.

President Mark Lansford, the lone dissenting vote in choosing the Strebeck property, said many of the concerns raised were considered.

Lansford said the state would maintain its road unless the city chose to annex part of it. He said a city official assured him that the city fire department would take care of the school. Because the school is out of city limits, it falls under the sheriff’s jurisdiction.

Mark Lansford said it’s possible that the site selection could be revisited if a board member raises the issue or the next superintendent could suggest that the board rethink their decision.

He said the money to pay for the utilities will come from the special bond election the district has in place for Aug. 31.

The $16 million bond issue will also pay for the district’s 20 percent share of the middle school, with an 80 percent match coming from the state, and other projects.

Secretary Max Best said he hadn’t heard complaints about the site chosen until Tuesday’s board meeting.