Education Services, schools to collaborate on ESSA funds
Education Services Deputy Executive Director Ron Etheridge points to school districts on a map of the Cherokee Nation jurisdiction that Education Services will focus on in the 2017-18 school year with regards to how the schools spend their respective federal Every Student Succeeds Act funds. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Beginning with the 2017-18 school year, the Cherokee Nation’s Education Services will start collaborating with schools inside the tribe’s jurisdiction that have high Native American enrollments on projected expenditures of Every Student Succeeds Act funds.
Derived from a U.S. Department of Education Title VI grant, school districts receive ESSA funds based on their respective numbers of enrolled Native American students.
Ron Etheridge, Education Services deputy executive director, said the dollar amount received per student equates to about $182 per student.
The Obama administration signed the act into law in 2015 as part of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The law mandates that “schools collaborate with the tribes” and that schools and tribes “sign off that they agree with the projected expenditures,” Etheridge said.
He said the act encompasses “every tribe in the state of Oklahoma and all school districts that receive Title VI money.”
Etheridge said the tribes would have “local control” of funds as long as the schools spend the federally allocated funds for what they are to be used.
“Concerning how that title money is used in the respective districts, it’s used for schools supplies. It’s used k-12 (kindergarten through 12th grade),” he said. “When they (Native students) get older and they require a lot more things it goes in toward technology…you can use it for college and career to get everyone prepped toward the future and life and what they’re going to do. You can guide them there.”
For example, Etheridge said Tulsa school districts are using grant monies on teachers and counselors, known as resource advisors, to visit schools and meet with students for needs such as attendance and grade issues.
According to documents, Education Services is focusing on 17 schools in three counties within the CN jurisdiction that have enrollments of at least 50 percent Cherokee students.
In Adair County, the tribe will collaborate with Cave Springs, Dahlonegah, Greasy, Maryetta, Peavine, Rocky Mountain, Stilwell, Watts, Westville and Zion public schools.
In Cherokee County, the tribe will work with Briggs, CN Head Start, Cherokee Immersion Charter, Sequoyah High, Grand View, Hulbert, Keys, Lowrey, Norwood, Peggs, Shady Grove, Tahlequah and Tenkiller schools.
In Delaware County, the tribe will collaborate with Kenwood and Leach public schools.
Etheridge said the CN and other Oklahoma tribes involved are determined to finalize plans for ESSA funding by the new school year in August.