Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

CMS proposing elementary school changes

‘Closure and repurposing’ to be discussed at Tuesday board meeting.

Every elementary school in the Clovis Municipal School district may be impacted in some way when officials submit their Facilities Master Plan to the state later this spring.

“There is potential for closure and repurposing” in recommendations that will be made to the school board on Tuesday night, Superintendent Renee Russ said.

“There are shifts in boundaries, where some students and staff will transition, and other recommendations …”

Deputy Superintendent Jay Brady told school board members last month that the district has “more facilities than kids,” forcing change.

Russ said that for the district to be “good stewards” of taxpayer dollars, it must also “liquidate or repurpose” some of the district’s buildings not necessarily used as schools.

The high school and Freshman Academy will likely see change as well, but the district’s middle schools are not expected to be impacted by the proposals.

The school board meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the school administration building. No decisions are expected to be made Tuesday, but will likely be made at the April 23 meeting, Russ said.

School officials last week declined to release details of the proposals, but said they will be posted on the school website on Tuesday. Russ said the board will encourage community input before making its decisions.

Russ said she and other school officials have informed impacted schools’ staff of the proposed changes but emphasized the board will have the ultimate say in any changes.

The need for change stems from a state requirement that 85% of a school’s capacity must be in use before it can be eligible for matching state funds, Russ said. A “matching” grant usually means the state picks up 68% of construction costs, she said.

“If we want to make improvements to an existing building or add a wing, we have to meet with the state and they look at all the (criteria), including the FMP to see if we’re eligible for a match,” she said.

“If a building is designed for 25 classrooms, the expectation is that we use 85 to 90% of that space.”

CMS overall, she said, uses about 68% of its classroom space. Elementary use, she said, is at 75% utilization overall, “but they’re very unbalanced,” she said. “We have campuses in the 40th percentile.”

In all, she said CMS has capacity for 11,371 students, with 3,618 seats open.

A group of about 35 parents, community leaders, school officials and professional consultants began meeting in September to prepare for submitting the Facilities Master Plan, Russ said.

Deputy Superintendent Brady said in January that the FMP “is a comprehensive and strategic process that outlines the district’s vision for optimal learning environments. The facility master planning process serves as a roadmap for efficient resource utilization, prioritizing infrastructure enhancements, and creating an environment conducive to academic excellence.”

Schools are required to submit FMPs to the state every five years to account for changing birth rates and enrollment rates.

Some of the space-utilization data compiled in recent months has “come as a bit of a surprise,” Russ said, in part because of insights from the consultants the district hired to help evaluate data. “What we are seeing in the current data is that the footprint of our facilities is too large. We have to put ourselves in a position to access matching funds from the state,” she said.

Russ, whose contract was renewed through July 1, 2027, at February’s board meeting, has been CMS superintendent since 2019. This is the district’s first time submitting an FMP since Russ was hired.

She said birth rates and school enrollment rates across the state have been on the decline, though “we are maintaining enrollment to a little better degree than the state, in large part due to (Cannon Air Force Base).”

But, she said, the “community population is shifting,” spurring the need for the proposed changes.

Some of the proposals, she said, would need five years for implementation. “Some changes are recommended to be in effect in 2024-2025 and others would require additional time for planning and transitioning,” she said.

If recommendations are accepted and completed, every elementary school in the district will be “at or very near the 85%” utilization, Russ said.

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