County Approves Capital Improvement Projects Funding For Los Alamos Public Schools

IMG_2451 (1).jpgFascia and soffit at the Pajarito Complex shows a need for replacement. On parts of the building pieces of rain gutter are missing or damaged. Photo by Maire O’Neill/

IMG_2455 (1) (1).jpgFascia board in disrepair at the Pajarito Complex. Photo by Maire O’Neill/

IMG_2456 (1).jpgA stairway at the front of the Pajarito Complex shows signs of having been previously repaired but is once again falling apart. Photo by Maire O’Neill/


Los Alamos County Council has approved three funding for three Los Alamos Public Schools projects for a total of $2.5 million during the next couple of years.

County Manager Harry Burgess said at the July 30 Council meeting that giving money to LAPS has been a practice since 2010.

“The amounts have actually varied but in the recent past we put aside $500,000 every other year and then in the most recent budget action, Council decided to put $1 million aside for schools for this current fiscal year. So, the request is three-fold for three different projects. The first is for the former and already set aside $500,000 chiefly to address improvements to the Pajarito and Mesa facilities that the school owns and operates in leases for revenue. These upgrades allow them to continue to charge appropriate rent for that space and provide adequate space to their lessees,” he said.

Burgess said the second request was for the further $1 million set aside in this current year’s budget particularly to go to the Pajarito Complex for roof replacement and HVAC replacement.

“For future consideration, the County and the school district are in conversations right now working towards bringing something to Council at your next meeting introducing the idea of transferring property. Sullivan Field parking lot is owned by the County. Although the school stadium is there, the parking lot is County property. We are looking to transfer that to the schools for their use and construct a new field house there. The $1 million that is anticipated for future budget years – this is not part of your agenda tonight because you have not voted for it yet,” he said.

Sheehey asked LAPS Supt. Kurt Steinhaus if he had a chance to talk to Los Alamos National Laboratory management about the possibility of “bigger changes to the Pajarito Complex” for which LAPS might want to hold off on the major roof and HVAC work there.

Steinhaus said he followed up with the management of the LANL and their request is that LAPS move forward with upgrading the facility.

“It’s greatly needed and the idea of something bigger, they said, is just that. It’s in the idea stage so they’re not moving forward on that,” Steinhaus said.

The Los Alamos Reporter was contacted in May by LANL employees who work at the Pajarito Complex with concerns about the condition of the exterior of the building and  forwarded photos to school board members in June.  A response from LAPS Bond Construction Manager Herb McLean indicated that the Pajarito Complex is in design and that part of planning should wrap up in the next month or so.

“We had originally planned on replacing the window walls (exterior walls) with a new wall system which would include insulated windows and updated, built to code, walls. In the last couple of months we have decided to replace the roof as part of the project, which is high on our list for work. That has involved creating specifications for the new roof and developing a plan for dealing with the HVAC units on the roof which has added about three months to the design process. We are about wrapped up and should go out to bid in September sometime” McLean said.

At Tuesday’s meeting Steinhaus said Pajarito is fully-leased and used at present, and that the investment is quite necessary to continue its normal use.

“In talking to the employees at the Pajarito Complex they love that facility. It’s away from a lot of traffic. They can park. There are a few employees that have noticed a need to do some maintenance and that’s what this request is – some much needed maintenance,” he told Council.

Steinhaus thanked Council saying the partnership between LAPS and Council is going well on the leased properties as well as waste-free lunches, reduced waste and the potential transfer of the parking lot at Sullivan Field and the tennis court. He said all of those things are very positive for the entire community.

Council voted unanimously to approve the following:

  • FY 2019: Lease facilities improvements – $500,000 for various smaller improvements to the leased spaces at the Pueblo, Pajarito, and Mesa facilities, such as painting, window upgrade, and HVAC repairs and replacements.
  • FY2020: Pajarito Complex – $1,000,000 for a major upgrade to the facility which will include roof replacement and HVAC system replacement and general maintenance repairs.  The total estimated cost is $2 million.
  • FY2021: Sullivan Fieldhouse – utility and site work – $1,000,000 for utility relocation and site improvements necessary for the project to move forward.  The estimated cost is $1.2 million.

LAPS takes in some $2.6 million a year from leases of the four properties by Triad National Security and the Department of Energy Environmental Management Los Alamos Field Office. Yearly lease figures obtained from LAPS are as follows:

Triad National Security, LLC

Pajarito Complex $664,797.64
Canyon Complex $656,396.88
Mesa Complex $193,500


Pueblo Complex $1,150,575