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Two Navajo Schools To Get $45 Million in Funding

Two Navajo Schools To Get $45 Million in Funding
January 18
09:09 2016

Maybe no one from the Navajo schools won the billion-dollar Powerball drawing last week – but the schools didn’t do so bad either.

On January 14 – the day after the lottery drawing – Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced that two Navajo schools would be receiving $45 million in long-awaited construction funds.

The funding for the Cove Day School and Little Singer Community School was announced nearly a year ago, but Congress only authorized the expenditure in December.

“While this funding is long overdue, it meets critical educational needs to build safe learning environments for native children,” Jewell said in a statement.

The funding “fulfills a broken promise” to tribal communities, Jewell said.

Navajo school officials applaud the funding, but point out that more help is needed.

“So, these two schools finally got money. Boy, it’s good. We need more,” said Navajo Superintendent of Schools Tommy Lewis.

The Navajo Nation has 15,000 students in 66 schools – more schools than any other tribal nation. However many of those 66 schools are 40 to 70 years old. Many schools have safety concerns that range from mildew to falling roofs, according to Lewis.

“The Bureau of Indian Education oversees 183 schools,” said Denise Desiderio, policy and legislative director for the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI).

“Two-thirds of those schools are 60 years or older,” she said.

“Just to catch up on the backlog of school repairs would cost $1.3 billion,” Desiderio said.

“At the current rate, it would take several more decades to take our schools up to the same standards,” claimed Desiderio.

In 2016 the bureau was allocated $138 million for construction – which is about $64 million more than it received the year before.

“While the NCAI is pleased that some schools make it on the federal government’s annual priority list, it laments the fact that many others in need fall short,” Desiderio said.

“For every 10 schools on the priority list there are another 50 to 60 dilapidated schools in need of repair,” she said.

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