SALAMANCA — The New York State Education Department (SED) awarded nearly $750,000 in grants this year to 11 school districts including Salamanca for the My Brother’s Keeper Native American Program.
The Salamanca City Central School District received $90,272 through the program in late April.
“Salamanca has selected the goal ensuring K-12 Native American male students have access to academic support services,” said Dr. Mark Beehler, assistant superintendent for academic services. “
The Salamanca school district, located within the Seneca Nation of Indians’ Allegany Territory, is comprised of 1,297 students in grades K-12, 37 percent of which identify as Native American.
The purpose of the Native American Program is to increase the academic achievement and college/career readiness of Native American students, with an emphasis on boys and young men.
For use of the grant, the district proposed the “implementation of two family support workers and revitalization of the Seneca Youth Council,” Beehler said.
According to Beehler, the family support workers would remedy the existing attendance deficit of students across the school district in grades K-12.
“Currently, 32 percent of Native American students are identified as chronically absent, missing more than 10 percent of the academic school year,” he explained. “Of these students, the average number of missed dates, as of Feb. 10, 2018, is 17.29 days.”
This absence prohibits access to Tier 1 instruction in the classroom, Beehler said, as well as to intervention and academic support services. Starting in the fall of 2018, the My Brother’s Keeper Native American Program grant would provide two family support workers specific for Native American students.
“The family support workers would collaborate with the families of students that are identified as being chronic absent, would transport when necessary and ensure students have access to support services,” Beehler explained.
The Seneca Youth Council is a Native American student government organization within the Salamanca High School.
“This organization would ensure students have leadership training and opportunities to collaborate in school and community government roles,” Beehler said.
“While we are pleased with these improvements, we still have concerns over the college and career readiness of our graduates and the low number of students with Advanced Regents diplomas,” Beehler added.
Other local school districts located on Seneca Nation Territory also received grants through the program. On the Cattaraugus Territory, the Gowanda Central School District received $75,293 and the Silver Creek Central School District received $37,440.
The program is open to all Native American students residing within the boundaries of the applicant school districts, including any students who have self-identified as Native American, even if they are not on an official tribal roll or living on a reservation.
The grant term runs through Dec. 31, 2018.
(Contact editor Kellen Quigley at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @Kellen_Quigley)