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Friday, October 17, 2014 - 11:31am

Gadsden schools, including four with delayed start dates, upgrading amenities with $38 million bond

The School Yard

POSTED: Monday, August 4, 2014 - 8:00pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 - 3:00pm

Unfinished construction forced four Gadsden Independent School District schools to delay the first day of their academic year, affecting about 1,000 students who were set to return from summer vacation on Monday.

District officials said the new buildings, updated air conditioning and ventilation systems, expanded parking lots and classroom upgrades would be "well worth the wait."

"We've explained to parents that we need to wait for inspectors to come in and give us [proper certification] so we can start school... but they'll see when we open next Monday that we've done a complete modernization of all the facilities," said Luis Villalobos, a Gadsden ISD spokesperson.

In addition to the four schools with delayed start dates - Desert Pride Academy, Alta Vista Early College High School, Sunland Park Elementary and Riverside Elementary - four other Gadsden campuses will undergo construction to upgrade classroom and building amenities. Ventilation units will be installed throughout the district.

According to Villalobos, the renovation projects are funded by money from a $38 million bond that passed in February. About $7 million went toward building a new campus for Desert Pride Academy, an alternative school in Anthony, N.M.

Jose Sanchez plans to enroll his wife in the academy in time for their new August 11 start date, and said they were both "really excited" about the renovations.

"We went to the [old Desert Pride] campus today because I wanted to enroll her, but I didn't realize they were closed until we got there... I don't mind because now that I've seen what they've done, I'm really excited to put her in the new school. Everything's going to be brand new [and] amazing."

The district allocated about $3 million for each of the seven other schools currently undergoing - or set to undergo - construction.

Gadsden officials said renovations at those schools will likely occur during the school year, but "will not interfere with the academic calendar."

Desert Pride, Alta Vista, Sunland Park and Riverside are all scheduled to open for their first day of the 2014-2015 school on Monday, August 11.

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