Char-Koosta News

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Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau visits CSKT, discusses education funding

By Lailani Upham

(L to R) Two Eagle River Superintendent Dr. Mike Bundy, Montana State Student Advisory Board member and TERS student Jerome Finley, and Montana Superintendent Denise Juneau. Juneau made a quick tour at TERS after the morning meeting with the tribes and school officials. (Lailani Upham photo)  (L to R) Two Eagle River Superintendent Dr. Mike Bundy, Montana State Student Advisory Board member and TERS student Jerome Finley, and Montana Superintendent Denise Juneau. Juneau made a quick tour at TERS after the morning meeting with the tribes and school officials. (Lailani Upham photo)

PABLO — Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction, Denise Juneau, made a visit to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Education Department for their Reservation-wide superintendent quarterly meeting last month.

The CSKT Tribal Education Department holds meetings for all the public schools with the Flathead Reservation boundaries for superintendents and principals in an effort to discuss any issues regarding tribal students.

This was the first CSKT superintendent meeting attended by Juneau.

Some of the main topics were attendance, testing, graduation, and funding according to CSKT Tribal Education Director Penny Kipp.

For the past couple years schools around the Reservation boundaries have been offering “State of the Indian Child” reports to CSKT tribal council explained Kipp.

She says the meetings are ways for the tribes to make sure the schools are in compliance with Impact Aid funding as well.

Impact Aid is a federally funded program and is not new – it’s been around since 1950. There is some confusion amongst folks on what exactly Impact Aid is and what it is for.

“It is the money that comes into the school districts on the Reservation in lieu of taxes. It has nothing to do with ethnicity or income,” explained Kipp.

Anyone living or working on a Reservation or Indian land, fall under the category of receiving local school district funding under the Impact Aid program, according to federal guidelines.

The funding has not always been consistent with some schools on the Reservation; however, the meetings help keep a dialogue and understanding between the schools and tribes, says Kipp.

The aid is distributed to school districts through a formula based on the number of students served that meet “federal connection” qualifications.

Generally, school districts receive payments if they educate students who have a parent who works for the federal government or live on federal property. Such connected students are those who’s parents are: in the U.S. military; Native American; or working on the federal property.

Impact Aid basically pays its “property taxes” to local school districts.

In order for a school district to be eligible for Impact Aid they must have at least 400 federal students or three percent of the average daily attendance.

Juneau stated she was very impressed to see teachers and superintendents come to the table to exchange information that is helpful for the overall success of tribal students – a platform most reservations do not have.

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