FARMINGTON — Northeast Elementary School principal Candace Young is eager to get all of her students back inside the school building.

Because the school is at capacity, five portable classrooms set up on the playground blacktop house additional students. The portables are in full lockdown mode while school is in session, operating with the windows closed and doors locked at all times.

"It makes me sad to see these kids like this. We have no way to keep them safe without locking the doors all day," Young said. "I've had teachers ask me, "What are we going to do when it gets hot?' You can't prop their doors open because anyone off the street can walk in."

To address the issue, the Farmington Municipal School District is applying for $11.8 million in state funding to help pay for about $20 million in renovations at Northeast and Hermosa Middle School. Both schools became eligible for funding after dropping into the top 100 schools in need of repairs. The funding would come from the New Mexico Public School Capital Outlay.

The original project cost for Northeast was $4.4 million, according to the school district's assistant superintendent of operations James Barfoot. If the state were to provide additional funding, the project could grow to about $11 million.

In a preliminary cost breakdown provided to the Daily Times, about $6 million would be allocated for an 21,649-square-foot addition to Northeast. The addition could include more classrooms, support space, restrooms and storage. Barfoot said the school district is still finalizing details on project, including the number of classrooms.

Additional upgrades to the building include installing a sprinkler system for fire suppression, replacing carpet and doors, installing wall insulation and upgrading the electrical work.

Because the school building is reaching its limit, the portables run off a separate electrical source than the school.
Hermosa Middle School, 1500 East 25th St., is one of the top 100 schools in New Mexico in most need of repairs.
Hermosa Middle School, 1500 East 25th St., is one of the top 100 schools in New Mexico in most need of repairs. (Jon Austria/The Daily Times)

"All those portables out there, we having to bring electricity in from the street, each has a different space instead of tying into the building," Barfoot said. "The building is pretty much at capacity."

Hermosa Middle School will remodel its kitchen, offices and lobby area, art and home economics classrooms, gym, stage and locker rooms, according to a recommendation Barfoot presented at last week's board of education meeting. The school will also replace a sewer line replacement.

Young was the principal of Northeast several years ago before becoming the director of elementary curriculum for the district. She returned to Northeast last fall and noted that the school building was being pushed to the limit.

"I can tell you there is a big difference when you have 400 kids in this building with the same number of bathrooms, one cafeteria, one nurse, everything like that," Young said. "Now, we have 570 kids, the difference with 170 more kids using the same facilities and areas, you can feel it."

Young said she is trying to relocate a classroom or two into the school building and move programs into the portables to allow groups of students to rotate in and out through the day.

"I would like to move out here my Title 1 classroom, which serves the entire building," Young said. "Kids that are needing the facilities like restrooms and those sort of things can be in the building where kids just need to come out here (to the portables) for 20 minutes can come in to use the restrooms."

Young said she was excited for the possibility of extra classrooms and doesn't have concerns about other parts of the building.

"I think it's a very well-kept facility, you go inside and look at those tiles that have been here since 1950, they look nice and new," Young said. "The custodians do a good job of keeping it clean. The students and parents are proud of their school, it looks nice. It just needs more space."

Joshua Kellogg can be reached at; 505-564-4627. Follow him on Twitter @jkelloggdt.