KIRTLAND — The Central Consolidated School District has approved an architecture firm to design the new building that will replace two Kirtland elementary schools.

School board members on Thursday approved the recommendation to hire Dekker/Perich/Sabatini, of Albuquerque, to design a new $26 million elementary school. The facility will replace the aging Grace B. Wilson and Ruth N. Bond elementary schools.

The firm's fee for the project will be about $1.56 million, which is about 6 percent of the maximum allowable construction cost of $26 million, according to Dennis Fieldsted, coordinator of buildings and construction for the district.

A crack in the cafeteria floor of Ruth N. Bond Elementary School is seen on July 17, 2013, in Kirtland. A new 26 million elementary school will replace
A crack in the cafeteria floor of Ruth N. Bond Elementary School is seen on July 17, 2013, in Kirtland. A new 26 million elementary school will replace both Ruth N. Bond and Grace B. Wilson elementary schools. (Daily Times file photo)

Fieldsted said about $16.38 million, or 63 percent of the funding, will come from the New Mexico Public Schools Capital Outlay Council, and the remaining $9.62 million, or 37 percent, will come from district.

The new school will house about 715 students from kindergarten through sixth grade and will be located somewhere on the two schools' grounds. The new building's exact location has yet to be determined. Both schools are located near each other on Road 6580 in Kirtland.

Ruth N. Bond Principal Melissa Roberts said she is happy to see the project move forward, especially as she runs into issues with leaking swamp coolers in her current building.

"We have a lot of issues with the heating and air conditioning," Roberts said. "It'll be nice to have something new, so we don't have to mess with that all the time."

Dekker/Perich/Sabatini is currently working with construction company Jaynes Corp. on the new School of Energy building for San Juan College.

Fieldsted said the district reviewed six bids from companies, and Dekker/Perich/Sabatini scored the highest during the first review.

Dekker/Perich/Sabatini was selected during a follow-up meeting. Fieldsted said the firm was extremely well-prepared during the interview stages and will dedicate staff to follow the project from start to the finish.

"(Dekker/Perich/Sabatini) just indicated they would work with us in any manner we wanted," Fieldsted said.

Fieldsted said the design phase is expected to be completed by May 2015. The district hopes to occupy the building for the start of the 2016-2017 school year.

Benjamin Gardner, principal architect at Dekker/Perich/Sabatini, said the firm will start working with the district soon to determine the scope of the project, conduct a thorough assessment of conditions and evaluate the work site.

"This is going to be an exciting and interesting project that will serve their population well," Gardner said.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 and Follow him @jkelloggdt on Twitter.