indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
BIA school spending hard to justify, report finds
Friday, September 5, 2003

The Bureau of Indian Affairs spends more per student than the national average but lacks sufficient data to determine whether the money is adequate, according to a Congressional report released on Thursday.

BIA's schools received more than $600 million in federal funds last year, the General Accounting Office (GAO) said. About $500 million came from the Department of Interior while about $140 million was provided by the Department of Education, figures show.

Overall, the BIA spends an average of $9,167 per student at the 112 day schools it operates, Congressional investigators said. The amount was higher than the national average of $6,617 per student.

But by looking at BIA schools in Arizona, New Mexico, North Dakota, and South Dakota, and similar public schools in the same states, GAO found that spending was on par. BIA allocated $10,140 per student compared to $10,358 per student in the public schools.

"This similarity, however, does not ensure adequacy," the report said, noting that the BIA allocates more for non-teaching areas. "[A]ll the BIA schools we visited spent less on instruction and more on facilities than their public school counterparts," GAO said.

Certain factors also mean BIA students aren't receiving the same bang for their buck as public school students, according to GAO. "BIA schools contend with very high poverty rates, large numbers of students with limited English proficiency, isolation, and many less than adequate facilities, all of which are associated with the high costs of education," the report said.

Getting to the bottom of BIA's budget proved somewhat of a challenge for Congressional investigators. The six formulas BIA uses to distribute money appear to be fair, GAO said, but the lack of sufficient data made it difficult to determine "the overall adequacy of the formulas."

In particular, the formula for transportation is almost certainly inadequate, GAO said. About 40 percent of all BIA schools spent more money transporting students than they were allocated in school year 2001-2002, the report stated.

"[S]ome schools made up [transportation] shortfalls by spending money from funds primarily intended for instruction," GAO found.

The government also lacks complete expenditure data for two-thirds of Indian Country schools because they are operated by tribes through contracts or grants. "The expenditure data BIA collects does not reveal in detail how funds are actually spent," the report said.

To improve accountability and ensure schools are receiving enough money, the report makes several recommendations. BIA should collect more data for all schools, whether tribally-operated or not, GAO urges.

BIA should improve the transportation formula, the report recommends. And the agency should conduct a top-to-bottom review "to identify and allocate all costs of administering BIA-funded schools," including how much BIA's central office and regional offices spend, GAO says.

In a response to the report, acting assistant secretary Aurene Martin said BIA agreed with recommendations to collect more data. But she said Congress has to modify existing law in order to require tribes to provide more data about their expenditures.

"We would be happy to work with Congress to development amendments which would provided appropriation information," she wrote in the August 28 comment letter.

Martin said a group of federal and Indian representatives was working on a change to the transportation formula. The No Child Left Behind Act negotiated rulemaking committee has its final meeting later this month.

The BIA school system consists of 171 day schools and 14 dormitory-based schools. About 48,000 students attend the schools, 70 percent of which are located on or near reservations in Arizona, New Mexico, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

Get the Report:
Expenditures in Selected Schools Are Comparable to Similar Public Schools, but Data Are Insufficient to Judge Adequacy of Funding and Formulas (September 4, 2003)

Related GAO Reports:
Bureau of Indian Affairs Schools: New Facilities Management Information System Promising, but Improved Data Accuracy Needed (July 31, 2003) | School Facilities: Reported Condition and Costs to Repair Schools Funded by Bureau of Indian Affairs (December 1997) | BIA and DOD Schools: Student Achievement and Other Characteristics Often Differ from Public Schools (September 2001)

Relevant Links: Office of Indian Education Programs, BIA - http://www.oiep.bia.edu

Related Stories:
BIA makes changes at Indian education office (08/07)
GAO finds data problems with BIA system (08/04)
Controversial BIA school proposal dropped (05/16)
Leave no Indian child behind (5/15)
Court to decide limits of trust duty (4/23)
Bush school proposal faces tribal debate (3/19)
McCaleb: Bush helping education (3/7)
Bush proposal strips BIA of education (2/5)
Bush school proposal criticized (2/5)
GAO report finds failing BIA schools (10/29)
Final BIA school goes online (8/24)
Norton, McCaleb to address Indian educators (7/23)
Norton pushes Indian school construction, reform (7/17)
Norton to visit Indian school (7/16)
Norton to visit Indian Country (4/25)
Tribal Schools on Priority List (2/16)

Copyright 2000-2003 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Wrapup from National Congress of American Indians DC meeting (2/27)
Native Sun News: Rapid City leader calls for tax on alcohol sales (2/27)
Mark Trahant: Beautiful trend emerges with power of Native vote (2/27)
Ivan Star: Lakota traditional history tells the true untold stories (2/27)
Audio: House Appropriations Committee hearing on BIA budget (2/27)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee to hold hearing on irrigation bill (2/27)
National Indian Gaming Commission choice gets another hearing (2/27)
Kevin Abourezk: Omaha language advocate passes on at age 58 (2/27)
Gyasi Ross: Yawna Allen shares her Native and African ancestry (2/27)
Frank Hopper: Alaska Native Brotherhood was about resistance (2/27)
Stanley Heller: Don't forget the Sand Creek Massacre in Colorado (2/27)
Cherokee Nation chief faces at least four challengers in election (2/27)
BIA and DOJ seek to mediate Cayuga Nation leadership dispute (2/27)
Non-Indians guilty for hunting incidents on Montana reservation (2/27)
Man from Te-Moak Tribe pleads guilty to voluntary manslaughter (2/27)
Administrator for Alaska tribe cuts her position out of the budget (2/27)
Opinion: Find common ground on Indian mascots in Connecticut (2/27)
Hannahville Indian Community starts $8M casino expansion work (2/27)
Wilton Rancheria still waiting for BIA movement on casino project (2/27)
Lytton Band paid $4.6M to use land as parking for Class II facility (2/27)
Opinion: Menominee Nation might turn to tokers instead of poker (2/27)
Opinion: Poarch Creeks come with slot machines and marijuana (2/27)
Updates from National Congress of American Indians meet in DC (2/26)
Native Sun News: Rosebud Sioux Tribe leader sidelined by council (2/26)
James Giago Davies: Native activism must embrace all relations (2/26)
Donna Ennis: Obama budget supports tribal self-determination (2/26)
Rich Winter: Let's keep Lakota Nation Invitational in Rapid City (2/26)
Oglala Sioux Tribe wants Lakota Nation Invitational out of Rapid (2/26)
Former Sisseton Wahpeton chairman joins marijuana company (2/26)
Hoopa Valley Tribe places marijuana referendum on April ballot (2/26)
Blog: Firm saves billions by exploiting Native 'loophole' at FCC (2/26)
Klamath Tribes aid investigation into stolen artifacts in Oregon (2/26)
Alaska Native community still waiting on funding for relocation (2/26)
Alaska Native lawmaker in hospital after emergency at capitol (2/26)
Elise Patkotak: Alaska must acknowledge high rate of violence (2/26)
Mishewal Wappo Tribe waits for decision in recognition lawsuit (2/26)
Muscogee Nation seeks 5000 workers for big casino expansion (2/26)
Little River Band expects wait for $180M off-reservation casino (2/26)
Northern Arapaho Tribe plans to open casino food court in May (2/26)
Cherokee Nation promotes citizen to manager of $80M casino (2/26)
Tribes share nearly $16M in casino revenues with New Mexico (2/26)
Connecticut tribes face threat from casinos in Massachusetts (2/26)
Updates from National Congress of American Indians meeting (2/25)
Native Sun News: Artist Del Iron Cloud wins top award at show (2/25)
Witness List: Senate Indian Affairs Committee budget hearing (2/25)
Steve Russell: Cherokees learned discrimination from colonists (2/25)
Mary Pember: Tlingit masks appraised on 'Antiques Roadshow' (2/25)
Julianne Jennings: Keep talking about race in American history (2/25)
Bill to create day to honor late Elouise Cobell stalls in Montana (2/25)
Washington tribes head to trial in dispute over fishing grounds (2/25)
Mobile dental clinic takes service to Navajo Nation communities (2/25)
Shingle Springs Band gun range draws questions from neighbors (2/25)
NCPR: St. Regis Mohawk Tribe continues land claim negotiations (2/25)
Opinion: Oklahoma attempts to rewrite role of Whites in history (2/25)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.