WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and lead Democrat on the Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), and Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) announced funding has been granted to Laguna Pueblo to rebuild their elementary school. After many years of fighting for funding to rebuild the school, the tribe was finally awarded the design-build contract and funding to soon begin breaking ground on a new school.
“This funding is great news for the entire Laguna Pueblo community and, especially, Laguna Elementary School’s students, parents, and teachers. We have been working with tribal and community leaders for many years to replace the elementary school’s worn-down classrooms,” Udall said. “Laguna students deserve a high-quality education and positive learning environment in a state of the art facility where they can focus on learning – not worry whether the school’s rusty pipes will burst or if bad weather will make the school walls unstable. Elementary school is vital to child development and we need to give all Native students throughout New Mexico and Indian Country the best possible opportunity to succeed from an early age. I will keep fighting for resources for infrastructure investments that matter most to New Mexico and tribal families.”
“Students across Indian Country deserve high-quality education in a safe environment where they can learn and thrive,” said Heinrich. “For too long, many Bureau of Indian Education schools have been in need of construction and repairs, including Laguna Elementary School. I am pleased to welcome this funding to build a safe educational facility for Laguna students and will continue advocating for resources to complete all schools on the BIE replacement list and others so that our students are prepared to succeed.”
“The Pueblo of Laguna is ‘Realizing a Community Dream’ come true as it eagerly anticipates the modern, state of the art school which is to replace the once condemned Laguna Elementary School,” said Pueblo of Laguna Governor Virgil Siow. “The Pueblo has steadily sought the funds to replace the current facility through several years. Finally, we can rejoice as a community! To see all the efforts come to fruition is a blessing. Our children will benefit from the new facility for decades to come. We are very grateful to the Creator for this blessing and opportunity.”
In 2016, BIE selected ten schools for priority campus construction and replacement. As one of the ten schools selected, Laguna Department of Education received final approval and funding from BIE last week to begin designing and constructing a new facility.
As ranking member of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, Udall helped secure the funding in the FY2017 BIE budget for construction of Laguna Elementary School’s replacement campus, with the support of Heinrich. In addition, Udall secured a 78 percent funding increase, also with the support of Heinrich, to build and maintain additional BIE schools in New Mexico and other states in the latest omnibus funding bill for FY2018.