CCSD breaks ground for new teacher housing in Shiprock

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

SHIPROCK — Work will start on new housing for teachers in the Central Consolidated School District, a project the district hopes will help recruit and retain teachers.

District officials and personnel from B&M Cillessen Construction Co. and Farmington Heating & Metal Co. broke ground on April 30 behind Mesa Elementary School.

Candice Thompson, the district's director of operations, explained that the first phase of the project will begin with seven units. The new houses will be either two-bedroom or three-bedroom.

The seven-acre site will eventually house 33 units, she said.

More:Farmington's Allen 8 cinema targets May 7 reopening, scrambles to secure adequate staffing

The Central Consolidated School District and B&M Cillessen Construction Co. broke ground on April 30 for two construction projects that will develop new housing for teachers in Shiprock.

Construction of five units near the district's administration complex in Shiprock will coincide with the project at Mesa Elementary, she explained.

The district has 112 units for teachers to reside in Shiprock, Newcomb, Naschitti and Ojo Amarillo, all rural areas that have little to no housing available.

"This district needed this support for many, many years. Here it is, and our kids deserve it, our communities deserve it. I'm super excited about this," Thompson said.

Construction of the seven units at Mesa Elementary will cost $2.9 million while the five units at the administration complex will be $3.7 million.

More:Colleges, high schools prepare for graduation season in a time of changing health rules

From left, Devin Verhulst, facilities coordinator with Central Consolidated School District, Thomas Montanez with B&M Cillessen Construction Co., and Bryan McCarty with Farmington Heating & Metal Co. participate in the groundbreaking ceremony on April 30 for CCSD's new teacher housing project behind Mesa Elementary School in Shiprock.

Superintendent Daniel Benavidez said the initial construction at Mesa Elementary will be covered by funding from the state Legislature while payment from the federal Impact Aid Program will cover construction of units at the administration complex.

The district is taking this step because housing is needed to attract teachers, he said.

"In an area like this and others in the state of New Mexico, it's absolutely essential." Benavidez said.

CCSD Board of Education President Gary Montoya and board members Sheldon Pickering and Philip Kinlichee attended in the event.

"The improvement for the teachers is a direct improvement on these kids' lives and their education. One thing we can do as a board is to ensure quality education for these kids," Montoya said.

Teacher housing helps them build a community and support their work in educating CCSD students, Pickering said.

More:Organizers hoping for good response to inaugural Animas River Jam

Sheldon Pickering, Central Consolidated School District Board of Education member, and CCSD Superintendent Daniel Benavidez listen on April 30 to details about new housing for teachers behind Mesa Elementary School in Shiprock.

"Any opportunity we have to attract quality teachers to the area and to find ways to retain them is an investment," he said.

For Montoya, who grew up in Shiprock, the project also sends a message to the community.

"Hopefully, they will see that we are moving forward. We are trying to improve," he said.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

Support local journalism with a digital subscription to The Daily Times.