LAHS construction back on track

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Board: New bus loop gets the green light

By Jennifer Garcia

Los Alamos Public Schools students and staff start winter break Thursday, but the work continues for construction crews at Los Alamos High School.


During Tuesday night’s school board meeting at LAHS, David Wharram, the owner’s representative for Gerald Martin, gave members an update on the project. He said on Nov. 21, two classrooms, the commons area, family and consumer science and the administration space were completed.

“The occupation of these areas is five weeks ahead of the original schedule. The remaining classrooms in the new building will become available at the beginning of the new year,” according to Wharram’s report.

Despite occupying those areas ahead of schedule, not all aspects of the project are going that smoothly.

The refurbishment of the A-wing link is still underway, with an estimated completion date of Jan. 9. In addition, the refurbishment of the temporary administration and IMC nurses office should be done by Jan. 16. Wharram said the overall cost of the project is still within its budget.

G-wing will be removed, but does not come under Flintco’s scope of work. However, with the removal of G-wing, “two classrooms in the new building were made available for the school’s use,” according to Wharram’s report.

“G-wing was initially not part of the project, but it sits on the parking lot area,” Wharram explained.
The report also states that the architect “has continued the punch list compilation and Flintco have begun resolving these items. The external punch list has not yet been started since the landscape is only 80 percent complete.”

“The school is scheduled to start move-in on Dec. 21 or Dec. 23,” Wharram said.   

Not only will students have a new school to look forward to, but there could be a new bus loop in the works, as well.

“We need to get this going. We need to make a decision,” LAPS Superintendent Gene Schmidt said leading up to the bus loop discussion.

Currently, buses drop off and pick up students in front of Duane Smith Auditorium, but during the Nov. 8 school board meeting, LAPS Transportation Supervisor Keith Rosenbaum showed those in attendance a video that illustrated how dangerous the current set-up is.

The video showed near misses that students have with vehicles as they try to cross the parking lot at Duane Smith Auditorium.

Parents could be seen driving quickly through the parking lot, dropping their students off in various places in an effort to get out of the parking lot quickly.

Architects have been working on plans for a bus loop and presented the board with several choices during a work session at Los Alamos Middle School in September. During that meeting, the board narrowed the choices down to two. Sanjay Engineer of the architectural firm FBP presented the two updated choices to the board Nov. 8. Upon further discussion, a consensus was reached and it was decided that version number two would be chosen. That option features the bus loop running in front of the IMC and exiting out onto Diamond Drive.

District Chief Financial Officer John Wolfe said that school officials had met with Los Alamos County Engineer and Traffic Engineer Kyle Zimmerman to discuss the project.

“Kyle already made adjustments on Orange Street. He’s very amenable to working with us,” Wolfe said.

The project carries an estimated price tag of $155,000, without tax. The district currently has $156,000. A portion of that funding came from the New Mexico Department of Transportation.

Engineer reminded board members that more refining needs to be done before the final cost can be determined.

“I don’t think it will go up,” Engineer said.

Following discussion, Board Member Judith Bjarke-McKenzie made the motion to approve the plan for the bus loop. The motion passed 4-1, with Kevin Honnell voting against it.