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Local charter school undertakes outdoor projects

Sidney Gutierrez charter school is in the midst of grounds improvements to create additional recreational and physical education areas and outdoor learning spaces at its campus on Gail Harris Street near the Roswell Air Center. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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Sidney Gutierrez schools, the city’s only public charter school, is working on more than $350,000 worth of improvements to playgrounds, recreation areas and outdoor learning areas for its elementary and middle schools on Gail Harris Street near the Roswell Air Center.

The plans call for work to be done in three phases. The first phase, about 80% complete after about two months of work, involves recreation and outdoor learning areas near the new elementary school classrooms. The second phase, now in the planning stages, involves a new track and some related structures, near the middle school. The third phase involves cleaning up the elementary grounds outside the playground fence.

The work was discussed during a Sidney Gutierrez Schools Governing Council regular board meeting held Saturday morning ahead of a board training retreat.

Principal Joe Andreis said that the improvements will provide recess, physical education and outdoor learning areas for students and faculty, as well as enhance city-owned property.

“We are excited to have it on our property,” he said. “What we call our ‘littles,’ they deserve to have a place to play and go out and enjoy. It is also making the city-owned property a lot nicer looking. Other than just having an open, desolate field, we are now having play structures, gaming areas and places we are using (productively.)”

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Phase one is being done by Accent Landscape Contractors of Albuquerque, with Andreis telling the board that elementary students should be able to use the new swings and climbing play structure within three weeks.

He said later that this play area to the west of the elementary classrooms also will have other features to be added in coming months, including another climb structure under a shade structure and several game courts for basketball, hopscotch and four-square. A sodded area will be for kickball or similar activities. The area also will have covered benches and landscaping.

On the west side of the elementary buildings will be an outdoor shaded learning area with picnic tables, benches, chairs for art classes, reading and other instructional activities.

Phase one is expected to cost about $340,000 and to be completed by mid-December, with Andreis saying that the contractor has been delayed by the the same supply-chain issues that have affected businesses globally due to the coronavirus pandemic and related labor and parts shortages.

He said the funds for all the grounds projects are coming from state and federal money received this year and last year.

The second phase is a new track to replace an existing track on the southeast side of the middle school. In addition to using the area for recess, physical education and outdoor learning, the school has a “walking Wednesdays” program for students and faculty that parents and families also participate in.

Andreis said he would like to add misters, water fountains or similar features to the track to help keep people hydrated and cool, as well as exercise stations, benches, shade structures and landscaping. The school plans to place this area behind privacy fencing.

Andreis indicated to board members that it might be possible that some of the outdoor areas would be open to the public when school is not in session.

Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.