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Census committee plans outreach to local schools

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Jacqueline Diego, partnership specialist for the Dallas Regional Census Center, presented general information about the upcoming Census to the Census 2020 Complete Count Committee on Tuesday night. (Alison Penn Photo)

An educational committee, a facet of the Census 2020 Complete Count Committee, plans to reach residents of the city of Roswell and Chaves County through providing sign-up locations and other materials to the school districts.

Census 2020 Complete Count Committee — which formed in May by the city of Roswell — met on Tuesday night at the Roswell Public Library. Marcos Nava, executive director of the Hispano Chamber of Commerce, is spearheading the committee and led the meeting.

Mona Kirk, Roswell Independent School District board member; Jennifer Cole, RISD director of federal programs; Ralph Mata, principal of Sierra Middle School; Kathleen Galloway, principal at East Grand Plains Elementary; Donna Oracion, College Development at Eastern New Mexico; and ex officio member Larry Connolly represented the education committee at the meeting.

“This is the first time ever that (we) have incorporated education and reaching out to education in the census,” Kirk said. “Roswell can count on me” and “Chaves County can count on me” are the two slogans that Kirk shared.

Kirk said the committee is considering a flyer or brochure listing the top 10 benefits to be created and distributed at parent/teacher conferences at all grade-levels at RISD schools. 

The plan is to also make banners for lobbies and hallways at elementary and middle schools. Wrist bands with the slogans are planned to be made for elementary and then college students, as well as teachers.

Computers will be available at the family science and math nights at the schools and in the schools’ secured vestibules for parents and guardians to fill out the census, Kirk said.

Teachers will also be given lesson plans for teaching the census to their students. Kirk said each lesson plan has the standards and benchmarks in the core curriculum in those plans. Kirk, Connolly and Nava are slated to speak before RISD admin next month.

Beyond RISD, Connolly said the library will also have two computers for people to participate in the census. Louis Jaramillo, director of the Chaves County Planning and Zoning Department and head of the Chaves County Complete Count Committee, said the county will be working with school districts in Dexter, Lake Arthur and Hagerman to include those students and families.

Kristin Waide, committee member, asked about private schools like Gateway Christian School or Immanuel Lutheran School and the plan to reach them.

Jacqueline Diego, a partnership specialist for the Dallas Regional Census Center, presented general information about the 2020 census. She and Steven Montano are covering all of southern New Mexico.

With 67% of county and city residents having internet access, Diego said the hope is more people will fill out their census information online.

“We have many resources for schools for children, so that if we teach the children about the census, they talk to their little brothers, they help the parents,” Diego said. “Who are the experts in technology right now? Kids — you know how kids can do anything. So we’re hoping the kids can also help the parents with the census.”

A short video that Diego played stated 2 million children under the age of 5, who rely on adults to be counted, may not be counted in the 2020 census and the website said “more than 10%” were not counted in the 2010 census.

The video said children of color, those living in low-income households, living in rural areas or on American Indian reservations, multi-family households, or those from immigrant families are at-risk of not being counted. The video can be seen at countallkids.org/.

Diego said $675 billion is distributed nationwide annually with the state receiving $7 billion per year, despite being the top undercounted state in 2010. She reminded the committee that these numbers collected by the census will influence the next 10 years for funding to possibly build more schools or hospitals, depending on what each community needs, and loss or gain of congressional seats.

Questions about boarding and college students came up from committee members and Diego explained that where an individual is sleeping for “six months and a day” also applies for these students and where they mark their residence in the census.

“It affects us in everything that we do, every single day of our lives,” Diego said of the census. “If we use a road, if we go to a school, it’s there because of the census.”

Special projects reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.