Some four months after mold was discovered in at least six classrooms of the Columbia Elementary School in Las Cruces, members of the city’s school board have yet to decide what to do with the building.
When the mold was discovered, students from the school located at 455 Elks Drive were initially transferred to the Vista Middle School, before finally being moved to the larger Centennial High School.
Parents have complained about the inconvenience of moving the students from one place to another, while school district officials have publicly debated the wisdom of spending money upgrading a facility that also has some structural issues, including a cracked foundation.
According to presentations made to the Las Cruces School Board, it will cost at least $9 million and take around 14 months to remediate and remodel the Columbia school.
A proposal to build an entirely new school at the Elks Drive site carries with it a $31 million price tag and two-year construction schedule.
In November, the school board authorized the district administration to have architectural remodeling plans for the current Columbia school drawn up. At the same time, a geotechnical survey has been ordered to determine the geological status of the Elks Drive site.
Meanwhile, several community input meetings have been held asking parents, district residents, and others for their opinions on whether or not to remodel the existing school or build an entirely new one.
In a November announcement, the district maintained that the “health and safety of students and staff remain our top priority throughout this process and we appreciate your cooperation and patience as we work to arrive at the most suitable, longterm solution.”
By Garry Boulard
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