Two Albuquerque schools have been awarded more than $2.6 million in federal grants for bilingual education programs from the U.S. Department of Education.

East San Jose Elementary, 415 Thaxton SE, will receive $1.3 million and La Mesa Elementary, 7500 Copper NE, will receive $1.35 million over the next five years.

“The whole community is ecstatic that we’ve won this grant,” said Richard Baldonado, principal of East San Jose Elementary. “This is a huge grant and is the sort of thing that can really make a big difference at a school.”

The grants are awarded to schools working to increase Spanish-speaking students’ academic achievement and literacy.

“Good bilingual programs raise educational standards and improve the overall quality of education offered in our public schools,” Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., said in a press release. “I’m certain this funding will be put to good use for the students at both of these schools.”

East San Jose Elementary has 530 students in kindergarten through the fifth grade. The school will receive $266,000 each year for the next five years.

Baldonado said about 80 percent of the students at his school have been deemed limited English proficient. The proficiency was determined by students’ scores on language tests.

Baldonado wrote his school’s grant application, spending about 150 hours explaining his ideas for improving a East San Jose’s dual language program that improves both English- and Spanish-speaking students’ ability to learn a second language.

The money will be used to upgrade the school’s bilingual reading program through a research-based reading program; restructure the math curriculum by implementing a standards-based program; improve professional development to support quality of instruction; and expand the family literacy program by offering more parent outreach training.

La Mesa Elementary has about 700 students in kindergarten through fifth grade, and 74 percent have been deemed limited English proficient. La Mesa will receive $271,000 each year for the next five years.

“When we heard we had won the grant, it was like a dark cloud that had always hung over La Mesa finally moved away,” said Barbara Trujillo, principal of La Mesa Elementary. “Finally, someone is supporting us and helping us make a real difference in the lives of our students.”

The La Mesa funds will be used to restructure, reform and upgrade the bilingual curriculum with an emphasis on reading, upgrade teacher training and restructure and improve the home-school literacy program.

“We want to use this grant to expand the family outreach programs we already have in place,” Trujillo said.



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