Community , Education

PPS officials need assistance from Native parents for grant funds

Pawhuska Public Schools’ officials need an assist from local Native parents.

Facing a potential decrease in federal grant funds for the 2019-2020 school year, the district’s Indian Education Department is asking parents of Indigenous students to complete and turn in a Title VI Student Eligibility Certification form, along with documentation that the child is either a citizen of a federally recognized tribe or the direct first or second-degree descendant of a tribal citizen.

“Right now, we would lose about 30 students due to lack of documentation,” Pawhuska Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Beverly Moore said. “We need to keep them on our roster, plus we want to add any students who haven’t already signed up.

“It used to be that you just fill out the form, list your child’s tribe and didn’t have to have the documentation. That is no longer the case.”

The form is available in the office at each PPS site, along with a copier to duplicate the student’s CDIB card or other citizenship documentation. Once a student’s form and supporting documents are submitted, it becomes part of his or her file and does not have to be turned in again while the student is enrolled with Pawhuska Public Schools.

Title VI Indian Education grant funds are allocated based on Native student enrollment. Currently, the district uses the money to help pay for two interventionists to work with Indian Education students who are testing below grade level. Depending on a student’s age and specific needs, those efforts may include one-on-one tutoring, small group work or for high school students, credit recovery programs to make up for failed courses.

In previous years, Title VI funds have also helped pay for summer school programming for Native students, but with the 2019-2020 grant amount still undetermined, that option may not be available.

A parent meeting is tentatively slated for April to determine how the district will spend its Title VI grant funds in 2019-2020. Efforts are also underway to work with the Osage Nation’s Johnson-O’Malley program to tag-team on a back-to-school event in August that would allow eligible families to pick up school supplies while taking care of enrollment and outstanding Title VI paperwork.

“We’re trying to strengthen that program and make it more friendly to what the parents feel the needs are,” Moore said. “We’re trying to listen and make our programs around what the needs are and not just say this is what we’re going to do.”