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West Side school set for a renovation

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The recently approved designs for a local elementary school aren’t just about aesthetics and functionality.

The plans for Mary Ann Binford Elementary School are also focused on eliminating vulnerability at the school.

The proposal was unanimously approved by the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education last week.

The school, located on Arenal near Unser, has been operating out of the same building for more than 30 years.

Principal Katrina Sisneros said the school got a new kindergarten wing a decade ago but hasn’t had much work done since.

The APS Capital Outlay, Property and Technology Committee told the board the new blueprint targets two concerns at the school: safety and parking.

“The new design has less points of entry,” Sisneros said.

She noted that security is a heightened topic as school safety conversations have been gripping the nation, following 17 deaths in Parkland, Fla., due to a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Late last year, Mary Ann Binford was the target of thieves, who also broke windows at the school and threw paint on the walls.

As for parking, a new school drop-off and pick-up area is in the works, aiming to help with daily traffic headaches at the school.

Previously, the influx of parents before and after class would cause about an hour of stand-still traffic in the neighborhood, the principal said.

A looped driveway will be added, circling the school to keep traffic flowing.

Mary Ann Binford will also get a new 26,950-square-foot, two-story building – phase one of plans to transition the school out of portables.

“The community has been super excited about the building, and it’s a blessing for our kids,” Sisneros said.

The Title I elementary school has about 800 students.

“I think really the best thing about it is that they will all be close together,” she said, adding that the entire campus will be more cohesive after the upgrades.

She said having the revamped campus will save instructional time so the kids get to class faster.

Plans from PA Architects show the building will have 20 classrooms and additional support spaces. A new courtyard is also included in the renderings.

Eventually, the campus will be home to another building that will have classrooms, administration space, a gym and a cafeteria and kitchen area.

During construction, the school will continue to operate by moving its portables around the campus to make way for the new buildings.

“Architects did a really good job to make sure the school can function during all phases of construction,” Sisneros said.

The construction cost is projected to be $7.4 million with a total working budget of $9.2 million.

The project will be funded through bonds approved by voters in February 2010 and 2016. And $6.7 million in future funding is anticipated to make the project happen.

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