Impact Aid, school agreement on agendas

The Confederated Tribes and Warm Springs Academy hosted a meeting with the school district board last week.

This was the annual Impact Aid hearing, when board members hear tribal member comments on the use of Impact Aid, and any other school related business.

The Warm Springs Education Committee then hosted a follow-up meeting earlier this week, after meeting with Tribal Council on Tuesday morning.

Two agenda items are the use of Impact Aid funding by the Jefferson County School District; and the long-term education agreement between the tribes and 509-J.

If you missed a chance to comment at one of the meetings, you can comment online till Dec. 9, at the school district website:

Or contact Education Committee secretary Becky Picard, 541-553-3257. Email:

Or drop off a written comment at the Tribal Council office at administration.


Community comments

The importance of the tribal cultural perspective in the school district curriculum has been, and remains a main point of comment.

Deanie Smith is the Language Program Director, and a tribal Education Committee member.

Cultural awareness, she said, is a foundation for success among Native students, in whatever they choose to do in life. “It’s important for them to know who they are and where they come from,” she said.

In her own case, Deanie said, she was able to study her tribal culture only after going away to college.

Another Impact Aid comment was that some school curriculum should be geared toward the regional and reservation job market.

Another was that there should be more focus on career and college planning.

This point came up again at the Education Committee-Tribal Council meeting.

Councilman Carlos Smith said the school district has a good program that prepares students for college, but there is not a lot of outreach regarding the course.

Another good opportunity at the high school, he said, is the college-level courses that are offered to seniors.

The students can earn college credits before graduating high school. This creates the incentive to continue on to college, as some of the course work is already done. Plus the students can graduate college early, he said. These and other issues can be addressed in the next education agreement between the tribes and school district.

The current agreement ends next summer. Council and Education Committee members feel the current 11-page agreement is too general, with no benchmarks to judge performance.

The school district has received an average of $2.2 million in Impact Aid funding over the past three years.
The funding is available to districts that include non-taxable lands such as a reservation.

About one-third of the 509-J district’s total student enrollment is Native American. At the k-8 Academy, 97 percent of the students enrolled are Native American.