LAS CRUCES, N.M.-Crownpoint, N.M., also known by its Navajo name, "T'iis Ts'ozi," is a small town on the eastern edge of the Navajo reservation that sprung up around the Crownpoint Community School. Now, that boarding school is getting a $38.4 million makeover.
"It's going to be a total replacement school," said Barbara Borgeson, project manager for the Office of Facilities Management Construction of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The new building is expected to be finished with construction in the summer of 2009 and will be complete with a new cafeteria, gym, dorm facility and classrooms to accommodate the roughly 500 students who will be attending the school.
"I feel that we did our best to truly maintain the (old) building," said Virginia Jumbo, CCS principal.
Architecture echoes shape of hogans
The new library and media center will be shaped in a semi-hogan, the shape of a traditional Navajo home. The entrance will be more inviting so that it connects more to the community and culture, she said. "Our gym is going to be pretty big," Jumbo said.
T'iis Ts'ozi Bi' Olta, Crownpoint Community School, home of the Warriors, sits on a hill that overlooks mesas shaped like the points of a crown. It was only after the school was built in 1912 the town blossomed into a population of 2,906, according to the 2000 U.S. census. It's an educational hub which includes Crownpoint Elementary School, Crownpoint High School, Navajo Technical College, Diné College and T'iis Ts'ozi Bi' Olta.
The original building had four classrooms, two for boys and two for girls and slowly grew to eight classrooms. In 1962 the current school building was built with 33 classrooms.
According to the BIA, a school building has a life expectancy of 40 years and the community school had various facilities that were deemed poor and unsafe.
Environmental, safety factors will be designed in
A BIA inspection in 2004 determined that the 46-year-old school exceeded the "2/3rds rule." Meaning repairs would cost more than 2/3rds the total cost of rebuilding the school, Borgeson said. Planning started in 2005 and was completed in 2006.
A construction contract for $38.4 million was awarded to Bradbury Stamm Construction, a New Mexico-based company.
The goal is to build a green "silver school," working with a program of the the U.S. Green Building Council, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED has three certification levels, platinum, gold and silver. LEED certifies buildings, and its construction, based on how environmentally friendly and efficient a building is along with its construction. "We're going after the silver rating," Borgeson said.
A new T'iis Ts'ozi Bi' Olta will ensure safety for its students and staff and a lot of planning has gone into the making of it, Jumbo said.
"I think we're all excited," Jumbo said. "We're really looking forward to seeing all the particulars."