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RR school district may open Joe Harris Elementary in 2015

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Rio Rancho school district officials are considering opening Joe Harris Elementary a year early to alleviate overcrowding at its other elementary schools.

The district had tentatively planned to open the school in 2016 however a recent effort to shift students at overcrowded elementary schools led to talks of opening the school early. It would be located west of Unser between Idalia and Northern. The board discussed the idea at its meeting Monday but came to no decisions. Instead, it decided to get more information before proceeding.
Rio Rancho Public Schools executive director of facilities Al Sena and chief operations officer Richard Bruce presented a report to the board Monday. They presented the option of either initially building the entire school or only a portion of it.

Bruce said a complete school would cost the district approximately $21.17 million to build. There were two partial build options. Construction costs on the first option would cost approximately $15.95 million and include the north classroom wing, the core building with the administration and cafeteria and half the parking. The final option would include the same things but also the shell of the southern classroom wing and cost approximately $18.9 million.

Board members decided to wait before making any decisions, saying they do not know if opening the school by 2015 is even financially possible. The district would need capital outlay funds from the state and have to shift its own bond dollars, which would mean forgoing already planned projects.

Recently the staff and board considered shifting students at overcrowded Maggie Cordova, Ernest Stapleton and Martin Luther King Jr. elementary schools to less crowded elementary schools. However, the limited shift would not address the overcrowding problem completely and parents were unhappy with the suggestion. The board decided to hold off on moving any students next school year and instead explore other options.

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