It is only appropriate that my column today would focus on how our district goes beyond human development. We are in the business of educating our children for a future that will be filled with global issues. Our children are provided with an education that will give them the skills necessary to compete in a world economy. Many of our children will remain in our community and provide an economic base for a prosperous county and a prosperous nation. some of our children will leave our community to pursue other careers, but their hearts will never leave their families or their roots.
In many ways, we are also a very integral part of the economic development of our community. With the passage of our mill levy, our community not only invested in the future of our children, but they also invested in the economic development of our neighborhoods. With each construction project that our district undertakes, we are investing the monies into our City of Belen, Valencia County and Socorro County.
The Belen Consolidated School’s operational budget is about $24.2 million. We employ over 300 teachers and certified staff and over 350 support staff (bus drivers, cafeteria workers, maintenance workers, educational assistants, clerical and secretarial staff). These are individuals who not only work in our community, but they are also our neighbors. They not only work in this community, but they live and do their shopping here.
Belen Consolidated School voters have supported bond and mill elections over many years. With these in place, our district has qualified for additional monies from the State Critical Capital Outlay funds. I have included a short list of some of these projects that have contributed to the economic health of our community and provided a positive learning environment for our children.
- La Promesa Elementary opened in August of 2001. The cost of the school totaled $6.6 million. The majority of the funding came from State Critical Capital Outlay Funds. These funds come directly from the state and are not assessed by the district.
- Construction of a new administration office on Main Street should begin by April. (Budget: $1.6 million in bond monies.)
- Belen Middle School will be remodeling the old gymnasium, renovating classrooms, improving the main patio area and relocating warehouse and maintenance. Construction on these projects should begin by May, 2002. (Budget: $1.1 million in bond money.)
- Belen High School received $2.25 million from Critical Capital Outlay Funds to be used for new classrooms and science labs. Construction should begin by November.
- $350,000 from bond monies will be used to pave student parking areas at Belen High School. The project should begin this summer.
- $140,000 of bond funds was used to renovate bleachers at the Belen High School football field.
- $2.2 million from E-rate funds (federal monies based on free student lunches) plus $500,000 of bond and mill levy monies have been used to upgrade our technology infrastructure at all of our schools. Ninety-eight percent of all computers are connected to the Internet, every classroom has a computer, and there are over 1,600 computers in the schools accessible to students.
- $70,000 of our mill levy monies has been used to landscape the front of Belen High School and remove fencing around the school.
The board of education has given us a clear vision that children always come first. Under their leadership and commitment, our district is not only providing a quality education for all children, but also contributing to the economic health of our community. The Belen School District would like to thank all of you for your continued trust and confidence in our schools.
(Editor’s note: Don Duran is the superintendent of the Belen Consolidated Schools. Voters in the district passed a mill levy earlier this year and Mr. Duran is reporting on some of the recent projects which local money has been used to fund.)