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News and Announcements from DODE Admin

During the February 26 meeting of the Health, Education, and Human Services Committee under the Navajo Nation Council, Division of General Services Director Shawnevan Dale addressed the committee regarding the current opening status of the Navajo Education Center, which houses the Department of Diné Education.

As stated by Dale, the current infrastructure of the DODE building is antiquated. It is one of the select remaining buildings in Window Rock that relies on a boiler system for heating and cooling when most of the other buildings in Window Rock have switched to an HVAC system.

In addition to the lack of heating in the building, there were more concerns raised over the building and local water lines. One of the lines in the DODE building over a sprinkler broke, which was part of the subsequent closure of the DODE building in January.

The water lines have been maintained and turned back on, though efforts to evaluate and update the lines were also suggested by Dale.


To reopen the DODE building, numerous issues must be addressed. The air quality tests performed by the Navajo Nation Occupational Safety and Health Administration showed no evidence of fumes or any hazardous materials including asbestos, carbon monoxide, or gas.

However, staff reported the unusual odors in the DODE auditorium, the proposed work space. Some staff stated they were hesitant to work in the new space, particularly given the closed quarters of the space.

Further concerns were raised including electrical systems, outdated lighting, as well as ensuring the building is compliant with ADA guidelines.

The recommend for a complete renovation of the Navajo Education Center was raised, with an estimated cost of $15.2 million. Once the final evaluation report and inspection is completed within the estimated time frame of three to four weeks, the decision on the course of action will be made.


General Services Department Manager Marcus Tulley shared tidbits about the DODE building, including its origins of being built in the 1980s. Despite having a design that appealed to and resonated with locals in the decades since, the current building is seeing deterioration along with roughly 80% of the structures across the Navajo Nation due to age, usage, and other factors including the weather and updates to parts of nearby buildings.

While the temporary fixes have often been the ideal solution at the time, Tulley and other members of Facilities Maintenance and General Services agree there are no simple solutions to the building issues beyond replacing and renovating. A comprehensive building assessment would also have to be completed to identify any unknown deteriorations and issues.

The Navajo Nation Council shared their comments after the presentation, highlighting the choice between renovating existing structures against building new ones. The key point was that the older buildings in Window Rock likely need comprehensive improvements rather than surface-level fixes.

The Council also reasoned that renovations would also be an extensive process, which led to discussion of comparing the costs as well as the longevity of both the renovation efforts as well as how long they could be projected to be maintained. The issues could rise again with just renovations, such as what occurred with the boiler in the DODE building.

Sources of funding to bring these projects to fruition was also unclear, but the Council emphasized a need for collaboration with other state and local educational entities who are willing to assist DODE with their functions and outreach. The discrepancies in current maintenance budgets would also have to be evaluated, as DODE’s costs are reportedly higher than other department’s due to the recurring issues.