The next growth boom in Rio Rancho is just around the corner! The school district is buying land for two new schools right in the heart of the Unser Gateway, very convenient to Unser Pavilion. Find out more here.

Rio Rancho school district eyes two big land purchases

Rio Rancho’s population may not have grown that much over the past several years, but the school district is already planning for the town’s next big boom.

The last time Rio Rancho Public Schools purchased land for a new school was about four years ago. Now, thanks to more favorable land prices and a growing town that will need more schools in the future, the district is actively purchasing more property.

Al Sena, executive director of the district’s facilities department, said the school district is actively in the land acquisition process now for a new elementary school and high school in the southwest part of Rio Rancho. Sena said the two properties are off of Westside Boulevard, west of the Unser Gateway corridor.

Sena said an elementary school usually requires about 20 acres, and a comprehensive high school requires about 100 acres.

The district also has vacant land elsewhere for a different elementary school and a middle school.

“In the past, our reaction was when growth was coming, we had to acquire property and design and build immediately,” Sena said. “As a result of the economic downturn, it’s allowed us to turn our focus on existing campuses and plan for the future. Now we’re in the process of acquiring for proposed growth areas.”

Sena said it’ll be years before those campuses are built, and voters will have to vote on bond measures to finance the schools.

“The community has to grow in order for us to have a specific need to pull the trigger to construct schools,” he said.

In the meantime, the district is upgrading current facilities for future growth and to create permanent classrooms for campuses, rather than using portables.

Vista Grande Elementary School, 7001 Chayote Rd. NE, is about to kick off a new project that will increase the school’s student capacity from 600 to 800. The project involves a classroom addition and renovations that will impact the school’s music, art, computer lab and staff work room spaces, among other things.

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