Kindergartners at Pecos Elementary hold on to their yellow hard hats as they participate in groundbreaking ceremonies for a new 12,000-square-foot addition to the school, Tuesday. (Mark Wilson Photo)
Pecos Elementary School, which welcomed its first students in the fall of 1954, has never had a major facelift, until now.
With a ceremonial groundbreaking to mark the occasion, a group of students and school district officials gathered at the school near its playground, Tuesday morning.
Kevin Dillon, construction manager for the Roswell Independent School District, said construction is scheduled to begin this week and it will add several buildings to Pecos Elementary, including four new kindergarten classrooms and a new library. Also, the interior of the school will be remodeled.
The project will cost about $9.5 million and add about 12,000 square feet to the school. Construction and remodeling are scheduled to take about one year to complete.
Remodeling the interior of the school will involve giving its structures new electrical wiring, new plumbing and sewer lines, new fire protection systems, and the removal of asbestos.
The lobby and administration area will also be remodeled to make the school safer. Dillon said this will involve securing the entrance to the school, so that when visitors enter, they are contained within a lobby area and must get permission before they enter the rest of the school.
“This is to help promote additional security for the children and staff,” Dillon said.
As he assessed a gutted wing of the school, Dillon said much of what was part of the interior of the classrooms will go except for the air conditioners, which are relatively new.
The classrooms will get new indoor ceilings and new, polished floors. Eventually, all the classrooms will be gutted and will undergo similar changes. Dillon said this will mean transferring students to different classrooms until all are done.
“It’ll look like a brand new school,” he said.
The 12,000 square feet being added to the school will also include a new library. It will replace a library space that is currently being shared with school administration and the school nurse.
Another section of the school that won’t be sharing its space for long is the warming kitchen and the physical education office and storage area. The remodeling project will create a dedicated space to warm school lunches and provide for a small addition to the gym where the new physical education office and storage area can be relocated.
The outside of the school will not be ignored. Dillon said an expansion of the pick-up and drop-off area is in the works. Currently only one lane, the expansion will create a two-lane pick-up and drop-off area.
Other local elementary schools will soon be getting similar facelifts. Dillon said Monterrey is scheduled to get three new kindergarten buildings, while Berrendo, Valley View, Military Heights and El Capitan will soon enter a design stage.
Dillon said the remodeling project and additions to Pecos Elementary will accommodate new student growth as well as help the facility conform to Public Schools Facility Administration stipulations, which requires that school buildings have a certain square footage based on student enrollment.
In particular, the PSFA requires kindergarten rooms be larger than other classrooms. Dillon said kindergarten classrooms must be 1,000 square feet, as opposed to the 820 square feet for other classrooms. Kindergarten rooms are larger to accommodate sinks and water fountains.
Michael Gottlieb, RISD superintendent, was present for the groundbreaking.
“It’s exciting to be remodeling our schools,” Gottlieb said. “They’ve never been (remodeled) since they were built.”