Education column: La Casita instruction rolling on

One blustery, winter day last week was marked by an uncommon treat. A sea of miniature, yellow hard hats worn by elementary students appeared in front of La Casita Elementary.

At the forefront Principal Dr. Sylvia Martinez, in a pink hard hat, welcomed guests to the long awaited ground breaking ceremony. Among the guests were district personnel and several school board members, along with La Casita staff and the student body.

A few weeks ago, we shared an update on construction taking place throughout our school district, thanks to recent bonds and matching state funds. That focus was on construction at Marshall Middle School. Progress continues, and since that time, several other projects have been completed.

For example, the roof of Zia Elementary has now been replaced. In addition, the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units that needed replacing were taken care of, along with roof insulation, skylights for natural lighting, ceiling tile replacements, all with an eye for energy-efficiency.

Zia’s atrium was roofed, to include skylights as well as heating and air conditioning to provide an additional usable space that was not dependent upon the weather.

The next major project at Clovis Schools will be La Casita Elementary, officially begun with this groundbreaking.

At least 15 years ago the need to add on to La Casita Elementary was a frequent topic of conversation. Finally, about 3 1/2 years ago the state body, Public School Facilities Authority ( officially concurred.

With La Casita’s enrollment fluctuating between four and five hundred students, portable classrooms have seemed destined to be fixtures at this school site. Clovis Schools’ construction and safety coordinator, Robert Telles, expressed it best. “We are so happy to be under way and under construction. It has been a long time coming.”

Construction at La Casita will include a new multipurpose room, a remodeled cafeteria kitchen with updated appliances and a second computer lab so students no longer have to double up during lab time. The library will double. Internal spaces will be remodeled, all to code and for added security. Throughout, skylights will be used to provide as much natural lighting as possible.

On that cold, but historic groundbreaking day, a handful of students were selected to stand alongside officials who together wielded shovels to officially break ground. Admittedly, the students, with their pint-sized shovels, heaved earth with slightly more enthusiasm than the adults. Construction officials quipped that they could use workers with that degree of motivation.

Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy is the Instructional Technology Coordinator for the Clovis Municipal Schools and can be reached at