By any measure, the Columbia Elementary School at 4555 Elks Drive on the north side of Las Cruces is an attractive and sleekly designed structure that has served the needs of nearly 500 pre-K to fifth grade students.
But Las Cruces Public Schools officials say the structure, built at a cost of $8.5 million, has been plagued with a series of structural issues, not the least of which is mold infestation.
It has also been subject to flooding, with parts of its foundation cracked.
The problem has become severe enough for the district in early September to transfer students to the nearby Vista Middle School, as officials try to decide what to do with a building that is only 15 years old.
Among the proposals under review by the district is remodeling and updating the current building, correcting in the process, its infestation issues; demolishing the building and putting up a new one at the same site; or building a new school somewhere else.
The remodeling option is clearly the least expensive route, at an estimated cost of $3 million; while building an entirely new school could cost as much as $25 million.
It is not known when the Las Cruces Public Schools board of education will make a final decision in the matter.
By Garry Boulard
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