Cantwell, Tester introduce tribal school construction, maintenance legislation

By:  Eli Francovich
Source: The Spokesman-Review

Washington Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) has introduced legislation that could provide $5 million for Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools as well open up alternate funding sources for the schools.

Cantwell, senior member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) introduced the SAFETY Act on Wednesday.

In addition to the money, the act would remove a funding cap that prohibits the federal government from contributing more than 80 percent of construction cost; the act would allow tribes to contribute funds for construction at BIE facilities and would give teacher housing assistance to Native American communities with BIE schools or public schools with many Native American students.

“The future of Indian Country depends on the education and development of native youth," Cantwell said in a press release. "These children and young adults already face significant challenges – crumbling schools, classrooms and lack of educational resources should not be another roadblock to success for them."

The SAFETY Act is available here. Of 183 BIE schools, 58 are labeled in poor condition by the BIE.