For this project, ARC based decisions about physical space needs on current best evidence, researching the methods and philosophies of many other Pre-K facilities and programs that support special needs such as autism and physical therapy in and out of the region. The resulting EdSpecs addressed planning and design of new and/or renovated facilities to adequacy for a projected enrollment of 350 three- and four-year-old DD students. The study also contributed to the New Mexico Public School Facilities Authority’s (PSFA) development of adequacy standards for Pre-K facilities.
ARC worked with a committee of school and district staff, a parent and PSFA field representative to develop three possible options: 1) expand and modernize the existing facility; 2) construct a mostly new facility on the current site and keep limited areas of the existing school; or 3) replace the facility on the current site. The options addressed the unique requirements of Pre-K DD students, including the need for specialized spaces; accommodations for medically fragile students; a safe and secure bus area; food service that follows governmental regulations; breakout areas to allow students from both programs to interact; playgrounds that are also instructional areas; and secure exterior spaces to prevent students from running away. The committee preferred option 2 or 3. The EdSpec also addressed staging during construction, considering the issues that would specifically affect Pre-K DD students. The expected opening of the completed school is August 2016.