Senator Tester (MT), ranking member on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and Sen. Cantwell (WA) introduced a bill on January 27, 2016 specifically geared to address the abysmal conditions of schools run on reservations. The bill would require the Bureau of Indian Education and the Office of Management and Budget to develop a 10 year plan to address the condition of BIE schools. It puts into place a demonstration program that would allow tribes to help accelerate the construction of BIE facilities. The bill also addresses other schools on reservations, including tribal colleges and Impact Aid schools – which are public schools that have limited tax income since most reservation residents are exempt from state tax.
For all three types of rural schools, the bill authorizes housing assistance for teachers to help fill vacancies and increase teacher retention. It also requests separate comprehensive government reports on both BIE and public Impact Aid schools to better understand and assess the needs, best practices, and next steps for renovating reservation-based schools
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