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Six Arizona Schools Make BIE's Campus-Wide Replacement Priority List

Crystal Boarding School
(Photo by Carrie Jung - KJZZ)
The Navajo Nation's Crystal Boarding School was one of 10 BIE schools slated for campus replacement.

Six schools in Arizona operated by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Education have been chosen for campus-wide replacement projects. To qualify, schools had to be more than 50 years old, have a “poor” facility condition rating, or house more than 75% of students in portable buildings.

Roughly 50 schools applied for replacement. Nationwide, only 10 ended up on the agency’s priority list. Six of them are located in Arizona, and seven are on the Navajo Nation. This fiscal year, $8-million will be allocated for the project.

Officials say the order of construction will be determined in the coming weeks.

READ MORE: Report: 38 Percent Of BIE Schools Lacked Safety Inspections In 2015

"All of these schools have serious life [and] safety issues and many are old and dilapidated," said Dr. Tommy Lewis, the Superintendent of the Navajo Nation Department of Diné Education. "Replacing them with new facilities will only benefit student learning."

Nearly 50,000 kids across the country, or about 10% of all Native American Indian children, attend a BIE school. System wide, 60 schools have been identified as being in “poor” condition and it’s estimated it will take at least $1.3 billion to replace them all.

This project comes as federal officials complete funding school replacements from another priority list that dates back to 2004.

Read the reporter's entire series on BIE schools and reforms.

Carrie Jung Senior Field Correspondent, Education Desk Carrie Jung began her public radio career in Albuquerque, N.M., where she fell in love with the diverse cultural scene and unique political environment of the Southwest. Jung has been heard on KJZZ since 2013 when she served as a regular contributor to the Fronteras Desk from KUNM Albuquerque. She covered several major stories there including New Mexico's Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage and Albuquerque's failed voter initiative to ban late-term abortions. Jung has also contributed stories about environmental and Native American issues to NPR's Morning Edition, PRI's The World, Al Jazeera America, WNYC's The Takeaway, and National Native News. She earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's in marketing, both from Clemson University. When Jung isn't producing content for KJZZ she can usually be found buried beneath mounds of fabric and quilting supplies. She recently co-authored a book, "Sweet And Simple Sewing," with her mother and sister, who are fabric designers.