PERALTA — Los Lunas Schools held a ground-breaking ceremony March 1 at Peralta Elementary to celebrate the start of an exciting new chapter. 

“It’s been such a long time coming,” said Peralta Elementary Principal Amy Viramontes at the ceremony. “Now that we’re finally seeing the building come down, it’s definitely bittersweet, but knowing that we’re going to have a new, beautiful school I think it will be worth it. The kids deserve a new facility to learn in, so I’m excited.” 

Felina Martinez | News-Bulletin photo
Los Lunas Schools personnel and board of education members celebrate the start of construction to rebuild Peralta Elementary School and its campus at a ground-breaking ceremony held March 1 at the school. Construction of the $33.2 million rebuild is scheduled to be completed by 2026.

LLS construction supervisor Tiffany McMinn said the campus will be completely brand new, and the new school will be a partial two-story building. The decision to do a complete rebuild versus a remodel, McMinn said, was based on a rebuild being the most cost-effective route. 

“With Peralta Elementary, we have multiple buildings on site and some are fairly older buildings, so it’s more cost prohibitive to try and repair certain parts rather than rebuilding it all,” she said. 

The total cost to rebuild the campus amounts to about $33.2 million with 63 percent of that cost being funded by the state through the Public School Facilities Authority.  

The two-story west wing of the new campus will house first through third grade classrooms downstairs and fourth through sixth grades on the upper level, and the one-story wing will house the district’s first pre-k center.  

“Currently, each of our school sites have individual pre-k, which is typically one or two classrooms. The (pre-k center) will have a conjunction of nine pre-k classrooms that will house all the feeder schools for VHS,” said McMinn. “So we’ll be removing pre-k from Valencia, Tomé, Desert View and Bosque Farms elementary schools so that way we can provide all the services for the kids in one location.”  

McMinn said the new campus will be more cohesive than the existing one as the original campus has been renovated over many decades and has a lot of separate structures housed on it.  

“This way, they’re all in one building, which makes it more secure from a security aspect,” said McMinn.  

Front entrance conceptual rendering. Courtesy of Dekker Perich Sabatini.

Dekker Perich Sabatini, a firm based in Albuquerque, is the architect of the new campus. In June 2023, representatives from DPS spoke at a LLS board of education meeting to provide more information on how the history and soul of the old campus will be implemented into the new building.  

Janet Lacy, a DPS representative, said at the meeting there has been concern from the community about the old, main building on campus being demolished. However, she said this building is not on the state registry of historical places and studies from other firms all recommended every building on the campus be taken down.  

“Despite the fact this building has a great deal of cachet in the community, the recommendation was to build a new facility because this building is going to be very expensive and difficult to retrofit and meet current codes for accessibility, HVAC, IT …” said Lacy.  

However, there will be plenty of photo documentation of old structures and unique art on the campus that holds significance to the school community, Lacy said, and some of these can be adopted into the new building.  

“It’s not uncommon for us to go in and document murals, artwork and other features of the building and then replicate them in the new building with a vinyl wallpaper or window transparency to give honor to the people who provided art on the facility before,” said Lacy.  

Some physical art pieces, such as the two large mobiles in the current building, will also be re-implemented into the new space.  

The interior look of the new building will be getting a revamp that Lacy said is inspired by the Southwest geography of the area and rich history of Peralta that “embraces a warm and welcoming interior that incorporates color and texture to foster a deep connection to nature.” 

According to a press release, “(the new building) will build on the rich traditions of the community and provide a state-of-the-art facility for future generations of students.” 

Inspiration for the color palette inspired by the Southwest geography of the area and rich history of Peralta was presented by DPS at a June 2023 LLS school board meeting. Courtesy of Dekker Perich Sabatini.

“The new Peralta Elementary School aims to revolutionize education by incorporating technology, flexible learning spaces and sustainable design principles,” the press release stated. “Its design has been carefully crafted to promote collaboration, critical thinking and creativity, catering to the diverse needs and interests of our students.” 

The new campus will feature the latest in cutting-edge technology acquired by LLS, including interactive flat panels, multimedia learning tools and high-speed internet connectivity.  

McMinn said it will also contain a STEM innovation lab and sensory room that, instead of being retrofitted into an existing space on campus, are thoughtfully designed into the new building to further accommodate those spaces.   

The new building will also emphasize environmental sustainability. The press release noted “the building design achieves a 58 percent energy reduction when compared to the AIA 2030 Commitment climate goals strategy.” 

Plumbing fixtures and equipment will also be water conserving, low-water use landscaping will be utilized and a synthetic turf play field will be implemented, which requires no water to maintain.  

Pictured from left at the groundbreaking ceremony are LLS Superintendent Ryan Kettler, Peralta Elementary Principal Amy Viramontes and Monica Arguello, pervious principal of Peralta Elementary.

McMinn said in addition to all features of current district standards for safety and security, select windows on the new building will also receive bullet resistant laminate glazing within the glass as an added layer of security. 

Construction on the new building itself is scheduled for completion during the summer of 2025. The second phase dedicated to completing the remaining site work, such as the parking lot and playground is anticipated to be completed by 2026.  

McMinn said students will remain on campus during construction in temporary classrooms as, “there’s multiple buildings on that site, so we’re able to adjust the way we utilize space to accommodate for every classroom.”  

The school and contractors will work together to coordinate when heavier construction will take place and where depending on what is going on in school that day to reduce distraction to students and staff. 

“The construction of the new Peralta Elementary School demonstrates our commitment to providing a nurturing environment where students can thrive academically, socially and emotionally,” said LLS Superintendent Ryan Kettler. “This school building is not just a structure, but a foundation for the dreams, aspirations and future of our community’s youth.” 

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Felina Martinez was born and raised in Valencia County. She graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2021. During her time at UNM, she studied interdisciplinary film, digital media and journalism. She covers the village of Los Lunas, Los Lunas Schools, the School of Dreams Academy and the town of Peralta.