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After years of trekking to class down the road from the high school — sometimes in inclement weather and more recently through construction — NJROTC students will finally have a new home on campus.
Before Thursday night’s school board meeting, the ribbon on R Wing was cut, officially marking the end of construction for that portion of the school.
School board President Melanie McKinley, along with board members Jody Benson, Thelma Hahn, Joan Ahlers and Kevin Honnell, as well as Los Alamos High School Principal Sandy Warnock and NJROTC Lt. Cmdr. Wesley Shumaker, cut the ribbon on the building.
McKinley spoke briefly about the milestone prior to the ribbon cutting and said that when the school was built in the 1940s, it was a state-of-the-art building, however, as time has passed; the community is now reminded to not “judge a book by its cover.”
Assistant Superintendent Paula Dean said, “It was a very exciting event because it’s the beginning of the huge construction project and that overshadows the beautiful things yet to come at the high school.”
She also said she was particularly struck when McKinley said, “The quality of the building can now reflect the quality of the learning that goes on inside.”
The total cost of construction for R Wing, now referred to as C Wing, is $1.5 million. The state paid $439,511, leaving the district with a bill of $1.1 million.
During the school board meeting, Superintendent Gene Schmidt announced that the Public Schools Finance Authority, that has provided a percentage of funds from their money to support the construction work at the high school, made a miscalculation and therefore owes the school district some money.
“The update on the total cost of the high school construction project is $200,000 less than we thought it would cost,” Schmidt said. “They’ve already done all the bidding on the materials.”
Chief Financial Officer John Wolfe said the school district can expect another $300,000 or more, based on the update from PSFA.
R wing has undergone a complete remodel and is “like night and day,” according to Wolfe. The area used to be a cafeteria and had open space in which there were tables, a full kitchen and a walk-in freezer. All of that is gone now and the building has been transformed into a series of classrooms.
“It does not even resemble what was there before,” Wolfe said.
Dean said the building before the remodel was “dark, dingy, old and nasty looking.”
“It was a great team effort between the staff, the architect and Flintco. Everyone did a fantastic job,” Wolfe said.
Meanwhile, construction at the high school continues, with the interior demolition of A Wing completed in September; the demolition of B, C and D Wings complete; and construction site access and construction fencing complete. It’s estimated that by December, the erection of steel work will be visible.