The Belen School District is looking for a new middle school principal.

The Board of Education accepted Jeff Sullivan’s letter of resignation as Belen Middle School principal at its Tuesday regular meeting.

Sullivan accepted a position with the Albuquerque Public Schools as principal of the ninth grade academy at Rio Grande High School.

The school administrator has worked for the Belen district since 1981. He was principal at Rio Grande Elementary and Dennis Chavez Elementary prior to becoming assistant principal at the then junior high in 1989. Sullivan became principal at the middle school in 1997.

“The loss of a talented and experienced administrator is always difficult,” Superinten-dent Don Duran said when the Albuquerque school announced its new organization and principals. “Mr. Sullivan has given many years of service to the Belen Community.

“I wish him the best of luck as he continues to be an advocate for children and public education.”

Sullivan was not available for comment.

The district is advertising for Sullivan’s replacement. Duran said he hopes to have someone on board by July 1.

Meanwhile, the school board approved the scope and design of renovations at the middle school.

James Lynch of James Patrick Lynch Architects proposed a landscape project and renovation of two classroom pods, which will cost $780,000.

These are the final two phases of the $1.6 million middle school remodeling project, which includes remodeling the gymnasium.

The second phase is $497,000 worth of improvements in the courtyard area of the school.

“The committee of teachers and parents said, since there are plans to split the enrollment into two middle schools in the near future, it felt the first priority for the current school was to put shade and water fountains into the courtyard area,” said Nancy Lopez, Belen Middle School’s assistant principal.

“We plan to do a large-scale landscaping project, which will put trees around the amphitheater area at the north end of the courtyard and create a shaded outdoor classroom area at the south end of the courtyard,” Lynch told the school board. “We will be using plants that are southwest-native plants, which will also be a botanical classroom.

“The area between the amphitheater and basketball courts is uneven dirt now. We plan to cover it with an artificial surface where the students can have activities.”

Included in the plans are sidewalks, four drinking fountains, eight concrete benches and six concrete waste containers.

The classroom phase of the project will install windows into the C and D classroom buildings.

“The buildings, which were built in the early ’60s and late ’70s, are structurally sound,” Lynch said. “These buildings have been remodeled three times. This project will install windows into the buildings.

“We will be installing some new restrooms and renovating others to be ADA accessible.” he said. “We will also be refurbishing the exterior to give it a similar appearance to the newer buildings on the campus. This will visually tie the buildings together.”

“This seems like a lot of money for the lunch area,” Board Member Al Wisneski said. “I thought we were going to develop additional classroom space.”

“The committee felt that shade and drinking fountains are a priority if we are going to split the enrollment into two middle schools in the near future,” said Nancy Lopez, assistant principal at Belen Middle School. “The teachers felt that, if a new middle school is going to be built in three to five years, they can live with the conditions in A and B classroom pods.”

Brad Phillips, the district’s executive director of operations, said funds from the upcoming $2.5 million worth of bond to be sold in the fall will be earmarked for the new middle school.

Regarding the proposed new middle school, neighborhood activist Rita Padilla-Gutierrez addressed the board about accepting land from the Valley Improvement Association.

“I would like to present a different perspective,” Padilla-Gutierrez said. “As the president of the Tomé-Adelino Historic Neighborhood Association I would like to remind the board that continued development on the east mesa has an impact on the people living in the valley.”

Fabian Padilla joined his sister in expressing concern over what impact the additional sewage produced by the new school will have on the wastewater treatment plant located near the Tomé Catholic cemetery.

Padilla-Gutierrez also warned that, if the school ties into the Rio Grande Utilities Corporation water and sewer system, it will be dealing with a monopoly.

“Los Lunas Schools accepted a similar deal, and, from what I’ve heard, they spend a large amount of money on sewer and water,” she said. “I hope you will investigate the cost such an agreement to accept the land could cause. Please don’t be too hasty in accepting.”

Board President Julian Luna thanked Padilla-Gutierrez for making the board aware of these concerns.

In other action, the board approved:

  • Purchasing a 2500 series Suburban vehicle from Baca Auto for $27,250, and a three-quarter ton service truck for $20,499 from Galles Chevrolet.
  • Awarding the annual electrician contract to C & Son’s Electric at a $17 per hour rate.
  • Awarding the bid for speech/language, occupational and physical therapies services and diagnostician services to Educational Assessment System Inc. The therapy services are at a daily rate of $442.36, while the diagnostician service is $450 per evaluation.
  • Awarding the bid for orientation and mobility education services to Michael Hayes of Vision Related Services at an hourly rate of $55.
  • Awarding the bid for psychological services to Dr. E. Mario Marquez at a daily rate of $332.
  • Granting half of an elective credit to students participating in the People to People program during the summer.
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Jane Moorman