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McCollum Responds to Administration Request for BIE School Construction Funding

January 29, 2015
Press Release


Washington, DC – Today, the Department of Interior and the Department of Education announced President Obama’s Native Youth budget recommendations for Fiscal Year 2016.  The recommendations announced today include $46 million for Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) replacement school construction – an increase over the administration’s request for $3 million in FY 2015.  Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN) worked to raise the FY2015 funding for BIE replacement school construction to $20 million through her position on the Appropriations Committee.

“Today’s announcement is an important recognition by the administration that BIE school construction funding needs tremendous improvement,” said Congresswoman McCollum. “The 48,000 children served by BIE deserve the same quality of education as all other children.  Providing that quality of education is the responsibility of the federal government.  Indian education has always had bipartisan support from my colleagues in the Native American Caucus and on the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee. I thank President Obama and Secretary Jewell for standing up for Native American children with the investments they requested in their budget today.”

“The Bureau of Indian Education has long been underfunded and meeting our trust and treaty responsibility for educating Native American children will not happen overnight.  Today’s announcement will not immediately fix or repair the 68 Bureau of Indian Education schools that are in poor condition – many of which are unacceptable and unsafe. In Minnesota, children from the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe who attend the Bug O Nay Ge Shig School will still face harsh February days in a converted pole barn that was only ever intended to be a temporary solution. But there is reason to be hopeful that will not be reality for those children for much longer.  President Obama and Secretary Jewell have taken a significant action to set us on a path towards ensuring that all children in Indian Country have access to a safe place to learn.”

Congresswoman McCollum is the ranking Democratic member on the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee and the Democratic co-chair of the Native American Caucus.