A School Sitting on “Irregular” Land Awaits a Permanent Building
By Jesus Aguado
The fifth school year will conclude in July 2020 for a preschool with no name located in colonia Magisterio of Ejido de Tirado. Although Ejido de Tirado sits in the urban area, some of its neighborhoods do not have drinking water or paved or even cobblestone streets. This is the other San Miguel de Allende.
Seven years ago, the need for a preschool arose in Magisterio. Faced with the prospect of sending their kids on foot to a school nearly three kilometers away, parents responded by renting a home on their own dime. However, after a while, the owner refused to rent the property any longer, and the search began again until the municipality made the current site available, designated as “irregular,” meaning that it had no legal deed. This allowed the Guanajuato Secretariat of Education (SEG) to install on the site two mobile classrooms equipped with tables and chairs, but not build a permanent school building.
The preschool, which has been operating since 2012, has been held in these two mobile classrooms ever since.
Four years have passed since Atención last visited the school. Since then, despite challenges, conditions have improved: Now the mobile classrooms have a perimeter fence to provide security. The site also has bathrooms, some built and financed by the state Secretary of Education and some by parent initiatives. There is also drinking water and a playground. Previously, students played with some tires stuck into the ground. There is a new paved pathway going from the site entrance to the classroom door, paid for with money raised by parents. One of the school’s classrooms has been decorated with support from the Center for Adolescents of San Miguel de Allende (CASA).
However, slippery mud still persists around the school during the rainy season. The classrooms are not anchored well and sway on windy days. In addition, despite the fence, the school is a target for occasional robbery. The José Vasconcelos School Council decided to donate new tables and chairs for the preschool three weeks ago, and the following week, these items, along with student work material, were stolen.
“[The classrooms] are very flimsy,” said one mother of a student. “With a hard push, the door opens.”
What is the truth?
The mobile classrooms were thought to be a temporary solution while red tape was resolved to clear the way for construction of a permanent school building. Seven years ago, everyone involved in creating the school hoped that the school would be completed by now.
Over the years, Atención has asked various state education officials about the school’s status, but we—and, more importantly, families at the school—have yet to receive satisfactory answers.
Previously, the SEG has told Atención that the problem is that no one holds a deed to the land where the school sits. It’s not possible to build a school on land without it. SEG officials say the Secretariat must own the land where the school is located in order to build there.
In 2015, the municipality offered to regularizar (regularize) the land, which would create a legal deed to the land that could be then given to SEG. At the time, Atención questioned city officials as to why these documents were not yet finished, and officials said they would have the deed in six months. The same was said again during the 2015–2018 administration.
When we recently asked San Miguel Secretary of Government Gonzalo González about the status of the title process, he said that SEG has had the deed to the land since 2018 but that SEG requested a larger parcel than what had been written into the deed, and so an additional 2,936 square meters, a doubling of the existing parcel, was added.
Secretary González assured us that the new deeds will be ready within 15 days to be notarized and then will be delivered to SEG which, together with the State Infrastructure Institute, will have the task of building the school.
However, officials in the northern regional office of Delegate Monserrat Bataller Sala told Atención that SEG does not hold a deed to the land. Atención is trying to confirm this claim with Delegate Bataller Sala, but as of press time, our attempts to obtain an interview with her have been unsuccessful.