Renovation of vocational building gets go ahead
For its meeting held Tuesday, Dec. 8, the Socorro Consolidated Schools board toured the Socorro High School vocational building with architect Claudio Vigil and vocational skills teachers John Pearson and Bryan Mitchell. The board then voted unanimously to proceed with a $3 million project to gut and renovate the building. The renovation will be paid for with money earmarked from the general obligation bond approved by voters in February.
Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Wilson is excited to be moving forward with the project.
“You can see from our tour of the building that our students deserve a new and better space,” she said. “It’s, at the very best, quite dated. And at very worst, in very significant need of renovation. Without the bond, we’ve just been addressing issues piecemeal.”
Collaboration with the city on Workforce Development is a possibility when the new facility becomes available. City Councilor Mike Olguin spoke at the meeting about the need to improve workforce potential in Socorro.
“I think the city could attract more industry to the area and to the industrial park if there were an up-to-date place for training right across the street,” he said.
With such a facility available, the city would be in a better position to be the fiscal agent for adult training programs, possibly funded through Department of Labor grants.
“I have a sort of ‘if you build it they will come’ philosophy about this,” Wilson said in a Dec. 10 interview.
“I don’t think, once the space gets built, that it will be very long at all before people start thinking creatively about how to use it.”
Wilson also pointed out that planning for combined use will enable them to potentially maximize what the taxpayers are getting for their money.
Now that the board has given the go-ahead to the project, the next step will be for the architect to meet with the teachers and draw up more specific plans. In addition to considering the need to accommodate both school and city workforce training requirements, the building also needs to be designed to be adaptable to changes in vocational education.
“Things are changing so fast,” said Vigil. “We need to be able to adapt to whatever the future brings.”
According to Pearson it will always be necessary to teach some of the most traditional and basic skills with basic tools. However, a lot more is being done electronically, for instance with equipment like the plasma cam, which allows a design to be programmed into a machine, which then performs the cutting.
Vigil thinks with the $3 million budget, the facility can not only be built but also equipped with some of the latest technology.
“The good thing with the economy being depressed is that it may be possible to get $4 million worth of value from the $3 million that’s available,” he said.
In Other Business
The board voted to award a contract to replace carpet with tile in the hallways of Sarracino Middle School to Gambles True Value Hardware. Gambles’ bid on the project came in approximately 95 cents per foot below the next lowest bidder. The budget for the project is $40,000, and the work is to be completed during the Christmas break.
Contact Suzanne Barteau