Officials: School construction right on track

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Micah Howard, left, of Portales tests concrete samples for strength Wednesday at the construction site of the Arts Academy at Bella Vista. Lance Langan of Clovis tracks the results to see it the concrete is in compliance. This is the first stage of construction for the performing arts center and classrooms.

Benna Sayyed

Clovis school renovations, additions and construction of the city’s new middle school are right on track, according to construction officials.

The Arts Academy at Bella Vista is receiving a 12-classroom addition to move students from portables to the main building. The addition will be able to accommodate 450 to 500 students. The construction of a 5,000-square-foot performing arts center is also in progress.

“The performing arts building is going to be unique in the state of New Mexico,” said Clovis Municipal Schools Deputy Superintendent of Operations Joel Shirley.

“To the best of my knowledge there are very few performing arts elementary schools in New Mexico and Clovis happens to have one of them. It is going to be a beautiful facility for use by all of the schools in the district.”

According to Shirley, workers have completed the following:

• 12 percent of the project at Bella Vista

• Dirt work for the performing arts center. The stage will be three feet tall.

• A concrete foundation has been poured and set and structural steel has been erected for a 12-classroom addition.

Shirley said once the foundation is sealed workers will start on the interior surfaces, wiring and mechanical and roofing systems. He said school buses have been rerouted from the west side of the building to the east side to keep student traffic clear of construction.

Lonny Lujan, project superintendent for Bradbury Stamm supervising the Bella Vista project, provided the following construction update:

• Underground plumbing for the performing arts center is in place.

• Workers will pour the concrete foundation for the performing arts center within three weeks.

• Steel will be delivered within a month and workers will start erecting the performing arts center.

“We’re from Albuquerque, and we appreciate the schools letting us come in. I hope to have them a nice performing arts center in here pretty soon,” Lujan said.

The $8-million project is scheduled to be completed in August 2012.

According to Shirley, construction of the new middle school, W.D. Gattis, is in the following stage:

• The rough end dirt work has been completed and drainage is being calculated and planned. The rough end dirt work includes the outline of a retaining pond, a track, a bus loop, and the site of the main building.

• A new base course, the top layer of soil on which the buildings will be constructed, has been brought in. Once the base course passes compression and core tests and is compacted, engineers will check the density of the dirt to ensure solidity and ability to hold a structure.

“They’re ready to get the concrete guys started like tomorrow or the next day or the next week,” said Jody Balch, director of operations for Clovis Municipal Schools.

“It’s going to be a heck of a building and just a neat area of growth for the city of Clovis. Clovis continues to grow to the north and of course this facility is out north quite a ways. It will allow the schools to take the numbers down at Marshall and Yucca and accommodate the six-graders who are getting out of the elementary schools.”

The $30-million school will hold 900 students and sit on 30 acres. The project has a completion date of June 2013.

La Casita Elementary is undergoing a renovation and an addition of 10 classrooms. According to Shirley, the renovation is close to complete.

• Project Superintendent Jim Eskew predicts classrooms will be available by Feb. 18. Students will be able to use all parts of the school as the project comes to a close.

• Students are now in the new north addition with classrooms being fully used.

• The old classrooms are being given new sheetrock, are repainted and new ceilings are being installed.

“It’s a project that’s gone really well and we’ve been very fortunate to have had a project go as well as it’s gone. It’s been a nice community school effort,” Shirley said.

Marshall Middle School renovations in the north part of the building are also in progress.

• Renovation is 85 percent complete.

• Projected date of completion is May.

• The school will replace its special education facility and interior courtyard.

• The school’s small gym is being completely renovated.

“It’s in the final stages, and you can actually see it coming together. We’ve moved back into part of our buildings. The traveling back and forth to classes has been much better,” said Cindy Terry, Marshall Middle School assistant principal.

“The kids are proud of it. The community is proud. When you’re proud of something you try hard. Come visit us. We want everybody to see that great things are going on here.”