RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – Rio Rancho High School is about to get a bathroom makeover as part of a pilot project. The school is trying out a new design to help curb vandalism and bad behavior.
Michael Baker is the Chief Operations Officer for Rio Rancho Public Schools. He explains, “A lot of students just simply avoid using the restroom and that’s not right. The issue really came to a head during that Tik Tok challenge where students were really destroying a lot of the property and doing a lot of vandalism in the restrooms.”
Principals are fed up with seeing students causing trouble while using the bathrooms, but vandalism isn’t the only concern. “In the restrooms is also a place where the students will go, they’ll vape, they’ll smoke, set fires, they fight,” said Baker.
The school district recruited architects to re-design one of the bathrooms at Rio Rancho High School, as part of a pilot program. It would include single private bathroom stalls with floor-to-ceiling walls and solid doors. The sink area would be open and visible to the hallway.
Baker explained, “This way the security and the administrators could look in there to ensure that the students are acting appropriately. In addition to that, the single stall allows and maintains the privacy of the student that actually uses it.”
The school board recently approved the design. Rio Rancho students and parents gave their input on the issues in the bathroom and the new design.
Construction is expected to begin in the summer with the new bathrooms ready to use by fall. The estimated price tag for the bathroom makeover at Rio Rancho High School is $400,000. After the remodel, the district will collect data to see if other schools should get the redesigned bathrooms.