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New classrooms for Comanche Elementary

Education assistant Naomi Johnson, left, and kindergarten teacher Cyndy Milligan use the Promethean board with their kindergarten students at Comanche Elementary. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Education assistant Naomi Johnson, left, and kindergarten teacher Cyndy Milligan use the Promethean board with their kindergarten students at Comanche Elementary. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Comanche Elementary teacher Bonnie Finch admired the high ceilings and large windows of the school’s new classroom wing – built as part of a $4.5 million project to replace aging facilities.

“This is beautiful,” Finch said after leading fourth-graders in a concert to celebrate the grand opening on Tuesday. “And the acoustics make your voice sound wonderful.”

Finch, a music teacher who serves the whole school, will spend much of her time in a new arts room filled with kid-friendly instruments such as conga drums.

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The 10,590-square-foot addition also includes five kindergarten classrooms, a pottery kiln and a demonstration kitchen for cooking lessons, all completed in December. New playground facilities were installed outside.

A second building of roughly 3,000 square feet houses expanded administrative offices, a community room and student health center.

The upgrades, paid for through bonds approved by voters in 2005, 2007 and 2010, were sorely needed, according to Kizito Wijenje, executive director of Albuquerque Public School’s Capital Master Plan.

Comanche Elementary, at Comanche and Pennsylvania NE, opened in 1966, and Wijenje said the entire aging building is due for replacement.

The work will happen in phases to minimize disruption for students, with another classroom block next on the list for construction, hopefully in six years, according to Wijenje.

“The longer we wait, the more expensive it gets,” he said.

APS will hold another bond election on Feb. 2 to fund capital improvement projects, and board member Lorenzo Garcia stumped for support in a short speech at the grand opening.

“Let’s move forward and make this the best bond election yet and get the vote out,” he said.

The new bond would provide APS with $575 million that would pay for technology and security upgrades, remodeling projects and two new schools on the West Side.

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