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Charter School and Healthcare Funding Biggest News of Cherokee Council Meeting

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Multiple resolutions were passed at this month’s Cherokee Nation Tribal Council meeting, but the biggest news was of the approval to create a public charter school and increase the current budget by almost $25 million for healthcare funding.

The passed charter school resolution will be capable of accommodating up to 160 students from pre-k through eighth grade. The school will be geared toward teaching the Cherokee language and culture and will be allowed to accept state funding and conduct standardized testing.

The Cherokee Nation now has to submit an application to the state Department of Education by June 30, 2011 for the school to be sponsored as a charter school for the 2011-12 school year according to Tulsa World.

Melanie Knight, the Cherokee Nation Education Services group leader, told Tulsa World, “Establishing our school as a charter allows us to be accredited and creates more transparency, which will establish even more public confidence in our school.”

The school would fall under the Sequoyah Schools umbrella, which has a Board of Education and superintendent. The Sequoyah High School would not be included in the charter application

With the $25 million increase brings the current fiscal year’s total budget to $654 million and will go toward healthcare. Here is how the money will be used:

  • $7.75 million to replace health care equipment
  • More than $5 million to the pharmacy refill center
  • Around $1 million to the W.W. Hastings hospital for facility improvements
  • Remainder will be spent on various Cherokee Nation Health Services projects and paying down health center debt.

Other items of business included:

  • Resolution to approve and submit housing plans for the 2011 and 2012 fiscal years.
  • Resolution for grant applications for domestic violence victims to the federal government.
  • Cherokee Nation citizens, James Amos and J. Anthony Yates, confirmed as members of the Cherokee Nation Housing board.
  • Voted to donate a water treatment plant to the Flint Ridge Rural Water District, which supplies water to Leach and Rose, Oklahoma.
  • Remove a dilapidated trailer from land acquired by the Cherokee Nation in South Coffeyville, Oklahoma.
  • Voted to change some language in a law already on the books to allow the Nation to be more effective in negotiating government contracts and voided two 1997 laws that were passed at meetings where a quorum was not present.

According to a press release, Principal Chief Chad Smith announced the tribe will receive $3.7 million from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to update land title records on restricted lands and create at least ten new jobs. Smith also announced that the Nation’s housing funding was allocated an additional $3.9 million from the federal budget.