New Children's Center Planned at NMT, July 18, 2007

by Carol Lynn Tiegs

SOCORRO, N.M., July 18, 2007 -- Following more than a year of research, including examining 16 potential sites both on- and off-campus, the New Mexico Tech Children’s Center Planning Committee is happy to announce selection of a site for a new Tech Children’s Center just south of Macey Center. The construction of the Children’s Center at that location will preserve the public artwork and playground already on-site, as well as access to the nearby duck pond. Its location and design also allows the newly planned facility to act as a back sound stage for the amphitheater on Macey Center’s south side.

The committee, which includes New Mexico Tech students and faculty/staff, as well as community parents of Center students, community and Tech administration members, paid particular attention to traffic flow, child safety, and proximity to campus amenities in their site selection process. Other considerations included site preparation and related expenses, and access to utilities.

In 2006, New Mexico enacted legislation requiring all new State building to comply with federal Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards for new building construction. The committee also took into account LEED’s specific considerations for site selection.

Louise Chamberlin, director of Auxiliary Services, said Tech plans on the building being LEED silver-certified as the first “green” building on campus. Studies cited by Governor Richardson’s office indicate that student attendance and performance is higher in green school buildings.

Chamberlin said the existing Children’s Center, a remodeled older home, lacks important facilities and utilities, including an adequate heating and cooling system. It has already reached capacity and will not meet expanding community needs. Currently there are 21 children on the waitlist for 2-year olds, and seven on the preschool (4-5 year-old) waitlist. Over the past several years, the student body has been comprised of one-third children of Tech students, one-third children of Tech faculty and staff, and one-third children of Socorro community residents.

The new Center will provide more space for parent and staff resources, an expanded environment for the children and an opportunity to serve more children in the Tech and Socorro communities. It will also help the Center qualify for Level V accreditation with the National Association for Education of Young Children, the highest accreditation level available. (The Center currently holds a Level IV CYFD child care license; however, the constraints of the current building prevent achieving the highest level of accreditation.) Important features of the new Center will include:

  • a resource room for parents, teachers and the community;
  • additional classroom space to accommodate up to 14 more children;
  • a multipurpose room, and conference room; and
  • a teacher’s lounge and separate staff restroom, plus lots of storage.

The Center will be an environmentally compatible “green” building, incorporating sustainable site development, water saving, energy efficiency, and indoor environmental quality. It’s new location will reduce traffic safety issues, and make it easier for children to visit other campus areas that are an important part of the Center’s learning environment.

Construction of the 7,054 square-foot facility will require the removal of only one or two trees and the relocation of one picnic table within the area. A few parking spaces will be removed and the area in front of the Center will become a drop-off zone. To enhance safety, the parking lot exit onto Canyon Road will be blocked off and a new exit cut on Olive Lane.

Excluding equipment, the new Center will cost $2 million. This is not covered by state appropriations. Securing the Center’s future will also require a $500,000 endowment to provide for ongoing operational, maintenance and upkeep expenses not covered by state appropriations. The university has a partial grant through a private donor, and is actively seeking additional donations of all sizes to cover the full cost of constructing and equipping the Center. Architects expect construction to take a year or less, once plans are approved.

For more information, or to donate to the Children’s Center, contact:
Cheryl Pulaski, Director for Advancement
New Mexico Tech, 801 Leroy Pl., Socorro, NM 87801
(505) 835-6769

Visit our website at www.nmtkids.org