BELEN—The Belen Consolidated Schools board of education is looking to finalize the district’s facilities master plan before spelling out specific projects for a $13 million general obligation bond on the November ballot, according to BCS Superintendent Lawrence Sanchez. 

“There was a facilities master plan presentation to the board on Sept. 19 and they will have it for two weeks before considering action, which will include setting priorities for the next five years,” Sanchez said. 

In a presentation at the Sept. 19 meeting from Ailene O’Byrne, the project manager and point of contact for Architectural Research Consultants, the Albuquerque firm hired to help the district update its facilities master plan, a laundry list of projects for elementary, middle and high schools, as well as support facility needs were recommended for the next bond cycle.  

In the process of revamping the master plan, the consulting firm scored all the facilities in the district, Sanchez said.  

None of the school sites fall below a satisfactory level, which is a score of 70 percent of higher. 

“That shows where we’ve put our money,” he said.  

The superintendent continued, saying the district’s support facilities were graded lower and O’Byrne recommended the district focus funds on those buildings more than it has in the past. 

“The board doesn’t necessarily agree with that. A number of priorities created by them are focused on those productive learning environments for our students,” he said.  

“Not that we’re going to let our support facilities go down hill; we’re going to have to make decisions.” 

Specific projects recommended by O’Byrne included pest control and HVAC — heating, ventilation and air conditioning — and ADA — Americans with Disabilities Act — improvements at Central Elementary; ADA, plumbing and HVAC improvements at Gil Sanchez; the completion of construction at Dennis Chavez; roof, carpet and gym HVAC replacement at La Merced; lighting improvements at La Promesa; and paving, door and window upgrades, and ADA and security improvements at Belen Family School. 

Needs at Belen Middle School included ADA improvements and renovation of the 600 building. 

ADA improvements and portable renovations were recommended at Infinity High School. 

At Belen High School, a site master plan to prepare for future replacement and renovations was recommended, as well as roof replacement for the 100/200 building, an upgrade to the exterior of the 800 building and replacement of the HVAC system in the Career Tech building. 

Belen High School

Other recommendations to support facilities included security at the Best Store on Becker Avenue, walkway improvements at the district’s central office on Main Street, ADA improvements at Logsdon Hall on N.M. 314 in Los Chavez, flooring replacement at the transportation building on Reinkein Avenue and resurfacing of the outdoor pool at BHS. 

The state requires school districts to review their facilities master plan every five years.  

Sanchez said once the board approves the plan, which was on its Oct. 10 meeting agenda for consideration, the priorities in that document will guide the priorities for the upcoming bond question. 

The district maintains about 160 acres of property and more than 980,000 gross square feet of buildings. The average age of those buildings is 34 years. 

According to the draft facilities master plan, which evaluates and prioritizes every structure in the district including school sites, storage, office space and facilities such as the teacher resource center, the total need for maintenance and repairs is $128,185,241. Included in that total is more than $63.7 million for a rebuild of the Belen High School campus. 

The district has a bond debit capacity of $18.4 million and is currently using 72 percent of that, which is about $13.25 million. 

Sanchez said if the bond is approved, property tax rates in the district would remain the same. 

“This is a continuation of the same tax rate we currently have,” he said. “Our goal is to use the master plan as a guide as to how we’re going to spend this money.  

“Depending on what decisions the board makes on the plan, then we can start to lay out those priorities.” 

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Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.