The Lobo Development Corporation’s board of directors on Wednesday approved a $1.3 million renovation project to one of its buildings so that it can soon be the exclusive campus for what some consider to be New Mexico’s best high school.
Lobo Development will be reimbursed for the project over 15 years as part of the lease that the Albuquerque Institute for Mathematics and Sciences, or AIMs, has for the building, Tom Neale, the UNM real estate director, said at the corporation’s board of directors meeting Wednesday.
The charter school – it serves about 400 students in grades 6-12 and has been New Mexico’s highest rated high school by U.S. News and World Report – will soon operate entirely out of a building on the 900 block of Bradbury SE. AIMS officials are hoping to consolidate into one building this December once the construction project is completed.
The charter school’s students are currently split between the building on Bradbury and another UNM-affiliated building at the 1100 block of University SE, which also holds the Lobo Center for Student Athlete Success. Both buildings are on UNM’s south campus in the Science and Technology Park.
“To be under numerous roofs is not a good deal,” said Kathy Sandoval-Snider, the director of AIMS, “As a principal I don’t like kids going across parking lots and streets to get to another building.”
In order for the AIMS students to all be in the Bradbury building, University of New Mexico Hospital administrative employees who currently also use the Bradbury building need to find a new workspace, Neale said. A lease for those hospital administrators to work elsewhere is being finalized, he said.
The construction project approved by Lobo Development’s board aims to turn the administrative space in the Bradbury building into space more suited for the charter school, Neale said.
Lobo Development Corporation is a nonprofit that is owned by the UNM Board of Regents and was created in 2007 to manage UNM-owned real estate, according to its articles of incorporation.
Neale said he wasn’t aware that any final decisions have been made about what UNM will do with the space that the charter students are leaving.
UNM President Garnett Stokes acknowledged earlier this year that university officials were reconsidering plans for the Athletics Department to take over the 1155 University address. UNM officials were questioned extensively by lawmakers and others in response to a report by NMFishbowl, a UNM watchdog website, that was critical of moving AIMS out and the athletics department taking over the building.
Sandoval-Snider, the director of AIMS, said the building her students are leaving is a “beautiful space,” but that her school is excited about moving entirely into one building.
“UNM could not have been more accommodating,” she said.