School officials are buzzing with anticipation as they prepare to open the doors of the new Montezuma-Cortez High School. A public ribbon-cutting is planned for Aug. 14.
“I believe this is the biggest and best story of the year for the community,” said Montezuma-Cortez Re-1 Superintendent Alex Carter.
Carter pointed out that nearly 50 years have passed since a new schoolhouse opened in Cortez, and he’s confident that the new two-story, 152,500 square-foot building will exceed the community’s expectations. The project was budgeted at $33.7 million.
“We will have a blessing, some short speeches and then welcome visitors to enjoy a tour of our new school,” Carter said of the Aug. 14 ribbon-cutting.
Rick Fleming, senior project manager for Nunn Construction, said construction and final inspections would be completed by July 31, adding that the project remains under budget “by a hair.” The company will remain on site for an additional 60 days to construct a multipurpose field and make any final adjustments.
“There’s always a few last minute changes,” said Fleming.
Principal Jason Wayman said some furniture had already been delivered to the site, and equipment from the old high school would be transferred to the new school next week. Contractors are tentatively set to hand over the keys to the building on Aug. 3.
“I am excited for the completion,” Wayman said. “The school is incredible.”
According to Wayman, teachers will be allowed to prepare their classrooms starting on Aug. 6. The school officially opens for the first day of classes on Aug. 26.
Albuquerque-based architectural firm Dekker/Perich/Sabatini designed the new environmentally friendly schoolhouse. Required to achieve Gold LEED Certification, the structure includes a geothermal mechanical system and solar panels.
Other environmental aspects of the project include recycling 90 percent of all construction waste, using recycled concrete as a base material for the parking lot, installing wooden doors that contain recycled materials, utilizing structural steel that contained a quarter of recycled materials and fitting LED light systems throughout.
“I’ve done larger dollar volume projects, but not to LEED Gold standards like this,” said Fleming. “This building and everything about it is very energy efficient.”
With a Gold LEED Certification, Fleming said the building would be 40 percent more efficient than other commercial buildings.
A Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) grant financed 54 percent of the construction cost. Voters approved a bond measure to fund the remainder of the project. The former Montezuma-Cortez High School served approximately 650 students. The new larger school is designed to accommodate 725 students.