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May 6, 2015

Senators to Interior: Additional input is needed to avoid another decade of outdated schools

Bipartisan letter urges Interior Department to include GAO findings before prioritizing construction projects in Indian Country

(U.S. Senate) - In order to uphold the United States government's trust responsibility to provide a quality education for Native students, Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) are demanding that more input be included before the Interior Department prioritizes construction projects at Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools.

In a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, the bipartisan group of Senators urged the Interior Department not to release a priority list until incorporating recommendations of an ongoing Government Accountability Office (GAO) study on BIE facilities. The GAO study will be available later this year.

"Failure to address dangerous and outdated school conditions in a timely manner weakens the literal foundations of the federal government's trust responsibility," the Senators wrote. "We cannot allow poor BIE planning and lack of stakeholder communication to leave this problem unresolved for another 10 years."

The BIE School Construction Priority List is an index of the 183 BIE schools and facilities in need of construction or repair. The Interior Department last produced the list in 2004, and is scheduled to release a new list this year.

According to the "Broken Promises, Broken Schools" study, 34 percent of BIE schools are in poor condition and these conditions can contribute to lower student achievement.

You can read the Senators' letter to Secretary Jewell here.

 

Office Contact Information

Senator Tester's Montana staff serves the state from offices in Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell, and Missoula. Please bring your concerns with federal agencies, academy nominations, and other situations to one of these Montana offices.

Billings

Judge Jameson Federal Building
2900 4th Ave N, Suite 201
Billings, MT 59101
Phone: (406) 252-0550
Fax: (406) 252-7768

Bozeman

Avant Courier Building
1 E Main Street, Suite 202
Bozeman, MT 59715
Phone: (406) 586-4450
Fax: (406) 586-7647

Butte

Silver Bow Center
125 W Granite, Suite 200
Butte, MT 59701
Phone: (406) 723-3277
Fax: (406) 782-4717

Great Falls

119 1st Avenue N, Suite 102
Great Falls, MT 59401
Phone: (406) 452-9585
Fax: (406) 452-9586

Helena

Capital One Center
208 N Montana Avenue, Suite 202
Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 449-5401
Fax: (406) 449-5462

Kalispell

8 Third Street E
Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: (406) 257-3360
Fax: (406) 257-3974

Missoula

130 W Front St.
Missoula, MT 59802
Phone: (406) 728-3003
Fax: (406) 728-2193

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