Navajo Nation - Office of the President and Vice President
The U.S. Office of the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs announced the Bureau of Indian Education’s plan for disbursing $850 million provided through the American Rescue Plan Act for COVID-19 relief, for Bureau of Indian Education-funded K-12 schools and tribally controlled colleges and universities. Of this amount, the 68 Bureau of Indian Education K-12 schools on the Navajo Nation will receive approximately $171 million combined, Diné College will receive $16.8 million, and Navajo Technical University will receive $16.9 million.
The Bureau of Indian Education is using the same set of allowable costs previously identified by the U.S. Department of Education for CARES Act funding, which are outlined on the Bureau of Indian Affairs website:https://www.bia.gov/service/american-rescue-plan-act/bie-implementation-arp-funding.
“The teachers, aides, administrators, and many others have done their best with limited resources to implement online learning and homeschooling for students since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the American Rescue Plan Act funding, we encourage all Bureau of Indian Education schools to further implement measures that keep our students safe and healthy while allowing them to continue receiving a quality education. Last week. First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, First Lady Phefelia Nez, and I visited with educators, parents, and students to hear their personal experiences during the pandemic and we assured our students that they continue to be a priority. Our administration will continue to work together with Bureau of Indian Education Director Tony Dearman and to provide support for Bureau of Indian Education schools. We encourage school administrators to be very transparent with the implementation and use of the American Rescue Plan Act funds,” said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez.
The funds are separate from the $20 billion that was approved through the American Rescue Plan Act for tribal nations. The U.S. Department of the Treasury has yet to announce a funding formula or distribution date for those funds.
Bureau of Indian Education Director Dearman stated, “While this past year has been a challenge given the conditions the COVID-19 pandemic has imposed on our schools and students, our educators have remained dedicated to ensuring our students’ success. The ARP’s funds will go a long way to ensuring our students will not unduly bear the burden of the pandemic’s impact on their education. This funding will help support our schools locally as they devise and implement much-needed student learning recovery initiatives.”
Vice President Myron Lizer stated that the funds will help to alleviate some of the challenges and setbacks created by the pandemic, but also noted that there is much work to be done to ensure support for the mental health of students and teachers as well.
“Aside from the technical challenges and the need for more supplies, our teachers, students, and parents have also dealt with the mental health aspects created by the pandemic. Our administration is committed to supporting the Bureau of Indian Education with the mental health challenges that will continue on for quite some time. Some students and teachers lost loved ones and some are dealing with the long-term health effects from the virus, so we have to continue supporting them and encouraging them,” said Vice President Lizer.
The distribution of the funds for the 68 Bureau of Indian Education schools on the Navajo Nation is based on the Weighted Student Unit (WSU) for each school: