On the shortest day and longest night of the year, golden shovels are expected to unearth the 35-acre site for the new Montezuma-Cortez High School.
Montezuma-Cortez Re-1 School superintendent Alex Carter has announced that the groundbreaking for the new high school will be held on Dec. 21, the winter solstice. The $33.9 million school is expected to open in the fall of 2015.
“The winter solstice is regarded by many native cultures as a special day,” Carter said. “We wanted to have the ceremony before the New Year to celebrate the groundbreaking, and it just seemed like a perfect fit.”
Officials from Albuquerque-based architectural firm Dekker/Perich/Sabatini informed school board members on Tuesday, Nov. 12, that three bid packages would be issued starting this week. The first bid package for site work, which includes grading and drainage, was released on Thursday, Nov. 14. The site work is expected to start next month.
To date, the construction estimate for the new 152,500-square-foot school is about $34.2 million. The architects still need to trim some $300,000 off the project to meet the $33.9 million maximum allowable construction costs.
“The design and construction teams are working to find savings,” said architect Jeffrey Fleming.
The new two-story schoolhouse is required to meet Gold LEED Certification as stipulated by the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) grant, which is financing 60 percent of the new high school.
“LEED Gold certification requires 60 points,” Fleming said. “We’re on track to have 65 points.”
A third-party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings, LEED Certification awards projects points in six categories: sustainable site, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, innovation and design process, and indoor environmental quality.
“The indoor environmental quality of a school plays an important contribution to learning,” Carter said. “It helps to increase school attendance, improve student achievement and lower teacher turnover rates.”
To meet environmental requirements, the new high school will include a geothermal mechanical system, employ natural lighting and use modern plumbing fixtures to reduce indoor water consumption by 40 percent, to name a few.
Remaining bids for foundation work and building construction will be released Dec. 16, and Jan. 22, respectively.
Earlier this year, an archaeological consultant surveyed the 35-acre site and discovered what is believed to be a set of room blocks and a pit structure from the Pueblo II era, 900 to 1150. The ancient ruins are located on the northeast corner of the proposed school site.
The ruins will not be disturbed during construction, and Carter hopes to use the old world architecture as an outdoor historical lab space.
The current Montezuma-Cortez High School serves approximately 650 students. The new, larger school is designed to accommodate 725 students.
To learn more about the entire design process of the new Montezuma-Cortez High School, visit www.dpsdesign.org/mchs.