Down with the Old and Up with the New

Aspen Elementary School is torn down to make way for a new two-story school. Courtesy/LAPS
School Board President Jim Hall chats with Aspen Elementary Principal Kathryn Vandenkieboom. Courtesy/LAPS
By GENE SCHMIDT, Superintendent
Los Alamos Public Schools

As the old year closes and the new year begins, it’s down with the old and up with the new!  Such is the case for Aspen Elementary as the old building has been torn down and new structural steel stands in place of the old wooden structure as construction crews go vertical for the new two-story school. 

The long hall that once housed 400 students in grades K-6 has been torn down. Over the next several months, construction crews will tear out the old foundation and replace it with a new modern wing that honors the long hall that once stood in its place. 

Aspen Elementary, one of the older schools in the district, will soon become the newest thanks to the community’s overwhelming support of a general obligation construction bond. The new school, which is expected to be complete in January 2015, retains much of the design features of the original school. 

For the rest of this school year and continuing into next fall, all classes will be housed in a portable campus next to the construction site. This up close and personal view gives students the opportunity to be virtual participants during the construction of their new school.

Current construction plans call for the new school to be completed in two phases. The first phase renovates a new foyer and remodels the administrative wing. The second phase calls for a two story school that houses the lower grades on the bottom floor and upper grades on the top floor.

To gain a firsthand glimpse of the progress being made, School Board President Jim Hall, Aspen Elementary Principal Kathryn Vandenkieboom, Assistant Superintendent Gerry Washburn, Chief Operations Officer Joanie Ahlers and I toured the construction site.

Hall stated that Jaynes Corporation is “making good progress and work seems to be going well.“ He applauded staff and administration for providing a high quality educational experience in spite of the construction disruption.

Vandenkieboom shared that “once the students and staff had moved into their portable classrooms, school feels good.” She added “students loved watching the construction.”

Jaynes Corporation Assistant Supervisor David Blair, who led the tour, stated the “project was on schedule and going well.  Once the old concrete slab was removed,” he said, “progress would really take off.”

Ahlers noted that the cost of the Aspen project was about $18 million. She explained that about a third of the total cost of the project was funded by the Public Schools Facitlities Authority. 

“Aspen was the most comprehensive school construction project with 95 percent of the school either remodeled or rebuilt,” she said. “In contrast, 35 percent of the high school was rebuilt and 65 percent of the middle school rebuilt.”

The Aspen Elementary kids are watching closely and counting down to the opening of their new school in January 2015.   

From left, Assistant Superintendent Gerry Washburn, Aspen Elementary Principal Kathryn Vandenkieboom, Chief Operations Officer Joanie Ahlers, School Board President Jim Hall and Jaynes Corporation Assistant Supervisor David Blair during a recent tour at Aspen Elementary. Courtesy/LAPS