Fort Hall residents express concerns to school board

FORT HALL — The Blackfoot School Board of Trustees held their annual meeting at Fort Hall Thursday night and received input from that community's residents about district education programs.
Four individuals provided comment, all pertaining to the importance of teaching native languages in schools throughout the school district.
Each year the Blackfoot School District must apply for federal impact aid to recover lost tax revenue due to federal lands. Those funds go into the general fund and can be used as the district sees fit. For the current fiscal year, the district received $830,236 in impact aid. Included students are those living on Indian lands, students of military personnel and students with a parent employed on federal lands.
In his public comment, Sherwin Racehorse said the school board has repeatedly heard concerns of tribal members that are not addressed and said the impact aid funds are not being used to remedy any of those issues.
"We want language taught in all the schools in the district," Racehorse said.
Superintendent Scott Crane said that while the impact aid goes into the general fund, spending per-pupil is higher for Native American students. He also said funding has gone to hire an additional teacher at Fort Hall Elementary, to provide the after-school program and all-day kindergarden.
Maxine Edmo also said native languages should be taught in all schools and expressed concern that her language is being lost.
At their meeting last month, school board members received information about grants available to fund Native American Language Preservation programs, but said those grants can only be obtained through recognized Native American Tribes.
Following the public forum, the board approved the calendar for the 2011-2012 school year. The first day of school will be Aug. 24 and the last day will be May 25. Trustees Scott Reese, Bryce Lloyd and Pete Lipovac approved the calendar. Vice-Chair Mary Jo Marlow and Chairman J.D. Tolman cast dissenting votes and were in favor of starting one week later.
Summer maintenance projects will include roof repairs at Fort Hall Elementary, Blackfoot High and Wapello Elementary. Repairs will also be made to plumbing at Fort Hall and Wapello.
The board approved bids for paper, general school supplies, risograph and toner. They also approved a request to seek bids for computers to replace aging computers in the district's five-year rotation plan.
The board met in executive session to discuss hiring an employee, but no action was taken.