TISA opens campus after six-year effort

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After six years of being split between two locations, Taos Integrated School of the Arts cut the ribbon on its new campus Monday (Sept. 25) to begin a new era for the charter.

For the first time, the school’s nine grades will be together on the same campus, which was available for tours in its first week of operations, which began Monday. The school’s students – there are more than 150 of them – gathered with faculty Monday morning to cut the ceremonial ribbon, made by an art class at the school. Parents and community members were also present to commemorate the $1.9 million building’s completion after nearly five months of construction.

“This has been a long time coming,” said TISA Board President Jill Cline. “It was so cool to come in this morning and hear the giggling of children.”

According to Cline, one of the biggest challenges for the school was finding a plot of land that worked for the school’s location, as well as obtaining adequate funding as a charter school. The school’s state appropriations and the gross receipts tax revenues available for the school paid for land and site work. For the buildings themselves, the school is on an eight-year lease-to-own agreement. Mobilease Modular Space was hired as the construction company, and Cline was unclear Wednesday (Sept. 27) if the building met green building standards.

The new facility adds more space to the school, including nine classrooms. The expanded space will allow the school to accommodate its maximum enrollment of 180 students while providing the option of installing a cafeteria, something the school has not had the luxury of in the past. Previously, students brought their breakfast and lunch and ate in their classrooms or outside on the playground if weather permitted. Students will continue to bring their own food, as the school is currently planning on exploring options for a kitchen and hot meals for students.

More than 50 volunteers helped move the school’s furniture and equipment over the weekend from the previous locations to the new one on 118 Toalne Road.

Classrooms were still being unpacked Monday for the grand opening. Some of the teachers expressed delight in that the students were able to unpack and “set up” the new school they’ll be learning in.

“We took two campuses and made them into this building in one day,” said Rich Greywolf, director of TISA. “It’s pretty amazing to be able to do that in that short of time.”

While the building is complete, landscaping and playground equipment are still to come for the new campus. In addition, Cline said a fence is the next major project at the new site to keep the children safe during recess and other outdoor activities. The nearly 4-acre plot of land also includes an existing acequia, which Cline said the school will be responsible for maintaining and keeping clean.

Tours will be given up to Thursday (Sept. 28) around 6 p.m. For more information, contact the school at (575) 758-7755.

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