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Diné College planning $7 million math and science building

dineFARMINGTON — Diné College is planning to build a proposed $6.5 million to $7 million math and science building on its Shiprock south campus to expand the college’s STEM course offerings and relocate classrooms from the Shiprock north campus.

Ron Belloli, the college’s vice president of administration and finance, said the college will begin the design planning process when the state of New Mexico sells the bonds associated with State Bond Question C approved by voters on Nov. 4.

The sale of bonds will provide Diné College with $500,000 for the design and planning work associated with the project, and the college hopes to finish construction by the end of 2017.

“We really need a state-of-the-art science building,” Belloli said.

Currently, math and science courses are held in portable buildings on the college’s Shiprock north campus located in an old Bureau of Indian Affairs board school building on Yucca Drive near the Northern Navajo Medical Center.

The proposed math and science building is scheduled for the Shiprock south campus just off U.S. Highway 64 near the Shiprock High School campus. Belloli said the exact location of the new building won’t be decided until an architecture firm is hired, but he expects it to be built near the Senator John Pinto Library.

Belloli said the project is currently in the internal planning stage, and environmental work to determine a site for the building will conducted during the design phase.

“We want to make available to our students the same quality of education in the STEM area they could receive at a university,” Belloli said.

Laboratories for biology and chemistry courses, and high-capacity lecture halls are key areas the college hopes to address in the new building.

Labs for science courses are held in portable buildings, and the small size of the structures is limiting enrollment for the courses, Belloli said.

“We want to make it extremely student friendly,” Belloli said.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or jkellogg@daily-times.com. Follow him on Twitter @jkelloggdt.

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©2014 The Daily Times (Farmington, N.M.)

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