your internet resource on facebook on twitter on Google+ on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Kill The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
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 -

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:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Tribal member speaks out against fracking (11/27)
Lakota Country Times: Rosebud mothers address meth issues (11/27)
Tim Giago: Walk a mile in the moccasins of Native Americans (11/27)
Vince Two Eagles: Focus on being thankful this holiday season (11/27)
Native Sun News: Keystone fighters celebrate permit's defeat (11/27)
Kevin Leecy: Tribes remain a vital segment of our community (11/27)
Steven Newcomb: Even media treats our nations as 'nothing' (11/27)
Ray Cook: Thanksgiving flies in the face of original Americans (11/27)
Terese Mailhot: Racism prevails in American popular culture (11/27)
Ilya Somin: Persistent 'myth' justified taking of Indian lands (11/27)
Ak-Chin Indian Community sued for same-sex marriage ban (11/27)
Cahuilla Band celebrates new travel center at gaming facility (11/27)
Opinion: Don't break promise to Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe (11/27)
Native Sun News: Family questions FBI on reservation death (11/25)
Lakota Country Times: Rosebud students earn top scholarship (11/25)
Brandon Ecoffey: Making a difference for people on Pine Ridge (11/25)
Yurok Tribe: Mourning the passing of 'visionary' Troy Fletcher (11/25)
Ned Blackhawk: Supreme Court case jeopardizes tribal rights (11/25)
Steve Russell: The real origins of the world's terrorism crisis (11/25)
Ramona Peters: Sharing a Wampanoag story of Thanksgiving (11/25)
Yatibaey Evans: Let's all teach the truth about Native history (11/25)
Martie Simmons: Every Native parent dreads this time of year (11/25)
Eric Metaxas: The 'miracle' of Squanto and first Thanksgiving (11/25)
Presidential Medal of Freedom presented to late Billy Frank Jr (11/25)
Oneida Nation opens first branch location of tribal-owned bank (11/25)
Virginia tribes continue to pay tribute required by 1677 treaty (11/25)
Chukchansi Tribe reaches new agreement for shuttered casino (11/25)
Poarch Band to welcome visitors to $65M expansion at casino (11/25)
Stillaguamish Tribe debuts eatery and microbrewery at casino (11/25)
Connecticut tribes consider proposals for third gaming facilty (11/25)
Mark Pilarski: Why are games different at some tribal casinos? (11/25)
Tribes seek support for Native language instruction programs (11/24)
Rep. Mullin confirms divisions in Indian Country on Carcieri fix (11/24)
President Obama to award Medal of Freedom to Billy Frank Jr. (11/24)
Sault Tribe pushes for passage of Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act (11/24)
Lakota Country Times: Charles Trimble recognized for writings (11/24)
Native Sun News Editorial: Some new names in Indian Country (11/24)
Jim Kent: South Dakota lands in the news again for corruption (11/24)
John Yellowbird Steele: Bill tries to hijack recognition process (11/24)
Albert Bender: 'The Green Inferno' hits new low in racist films (11/24)
Peter d'Errico: Anti-Indian wars continue in US Supreme Court (11/24)
Anne Keala Kelly: US government wants to steal Hawaii again (11/24)
Counties ask Supreme Court to hear Ute Tribe boundary case (11/24)
Shinnecock Nation considers entering medical marijuana field (11/24)
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.