After months of discussions, public input, and studies, members of the Las Cruces Board of Education have voted to approve the construction of a more than $30 million new school designed to replace a current stressed facility.
Mold infestation was discovered last fall in at least half a dozen classrooms of the Columbia Elementary School at 4555 Elks Drive on the north side of the city, prompting school officials to move nearly 475 students there to another district school.
Board members then began the copious process of trying to decide whether it made more financial sense to remediate the mold, while also addressing a problem with the building’s foundation, or to build an entirely new structure elsewhere.
Earlier estimates suggested that it would cost upwards of at least $7 million to remediate and remodel the existing school, including both on-site and off-site drainage work.
Now acting upon the recommendations of Superintendent Greg Ewing, the board has finally decided to go with building a new facility.
But first, the existing school will be demolished at a cost of around $1 million, with work on the new facility, which will actually be built on different part of the site, beginning shortly afterwards.
Although the timeline for both projects is general at this point, it is thought that it will take up to two years to complete the new school.
Some $21 million in funding for the project is expected to come from the New Mexico Public Schools Facilities, with the Las Cruces Public Schools district putting up nearly $14 million.
By Garry Boulard
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