State puts hold on money

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By Don Pace

The state has put a hold on $2.8 million that was to go to the renovation of Tony Serna Elementary School.

But district officials say it may work to West Las Vegas’ advantage.

Superintendent Jim Abreu told the school board recently that the Public School Facilities Authority informed him that construction money for Tony Serna had been delayed.

“The reason for that is we have not completed a facility master plan. We met with PSFA in August, and they gave us approval for district architects to draw a master plan, and they gave us a year to get it done,” Abreu said.

Abreu said at that time that the state agency agreed to let the district continue with construction projects, including Tony Serna Elementary. But he said recently, the agency changed its mind, saying it would release the money once the district finished the plan.

During a November meeting, school board members asked the superintendent if construction could be delayed until the end of the school year. Board members were concerned about moving children and teachers, which was scheduled to begin during the Christmas break.

“This may work to our advantage because it does not disrupt the school year, like we talked about in the past, and we can do it at the end of the school year. Now the key is to finish the facility master plan. We have a year to do it, but we would like to get it done in the next three of four months,” Abreu said.

Abreu said his administration inherited the situation from the previous architects, who had done a draft in 2006 but never completed the master plan.

“We tried to get the previous architectural firm to step up and complete the master plan that they were under contract to do, but they finally told us they would not complete it. That’s when I went to PSFA and asked if we could use our current architect, which they approved, giving us a year to do it,” Abreu said. “At that time, they told us we could go ahead with our Tony Serna project, but that changed in the last couple of weeks.”

Board President Christine Ludi agreed that the delay was an advantage and encouraged district architect Antonio Ortega to get moving on organizing a master plan committee.

The PSFA reversed course on its directive to West after the state Legislative Finance Committee’s staff produced a report in November that included in its recommendations holding off giving the money for the Tony Serna project until the master plan was completed.