From On September 17, 1935, the Bernalillo Board of Education prepared a WPA project proposal for an addition to an existing elementary school in the village of Algodones, a rural farming north of Albuquerque.
The project would not only include the addition, but also “leveling and straightining [sic.] of the school grounds” (WPA OP 65-85-492: 7158).
The Board estimated that the work would cost $2,768,00, with the WPA contributing $3,168.00.
The school addition and improvements was the only WPA project funded in the small community.
The WPA played an important role in developing school infrastructure in New Mexico during the Great Depression. Prior to the New Deal, New Mexico’s more than 900 school districts relied primarily on property taxes to fund new school construction. Given the state’s low tax base, especially in poor, rural areas, the monies provided by the PWA and WPA proved a boon to school construction.
According to one figure, by 1937 the WPA had financed 257 new school buildings, 54 playgrounds, 15 gymnasiums, and remodeled 56 schools (Nanninga, 1942: 111).
By the conclusion of the New Deal, 361 schools had been constructed with WPA funds, representing the seventh highest expenditure on schools in the United States during the Depression (Kammer, 1994: 53).
While the school is still in operation, it is unclear whether the WPA improvements are extant.
Kammer, David. The Historic and Architectural Resources of the New Deal in New Mexico. Multiple Property Documentation Form prepared for the Historic Preservation Division, 1994. Nanninga, Simon P. The New Mexico School System. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1942. WPA Official Project File # 65-85-492.
Project originally submitted by John Murphey on April 13, 2015.
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