CIBOLA COUNTY – The Indian Policies and Procedures, Title VIII Impact Aid document, more commonly known as the “IPP,” has been Bob Tenequer’s focus since late last year.
Tenequer, a former staff writer of the Beacon’s, was hired as Indian Education Director of Grants/Cibola County Schools in November.
According to Tenequer, the IPP is the final piece of the puzzle to the Impact Aid application, and has a Jan. 31 deadline. Tenequer asked for the school board’s approval on the IPP document during the Tuesday, Jan. 22, regularly scheduled board meeting.
Impact Aid funding was designed to assist school districts that have lost property tax revenue due to the presence of tax-exempt Federal property, or that have experienced increased expenditures due to the enrollment of federally connected children, including children living on Indian lands, according to the Institute of Education Sciences. To put it into perspective, its influence on G/CCS budget is approximately $400,000 annually, according to Financial Director Ann Marie Gallegos.
A requirement of Impact Aid is collaboration with tribal communities.
Signatures from the governors of the Pueblo of Laguna and Acoma, and President of the Baca/Prewitt Chapter, though not required, are on the last page of the IPP document, thus acknowledging the Pueblos’ and the Chapters’ collaboration with the school district, which is required.
The document includes a mission statement, policies and procedures in regard to Indian children who attend G/CCS to have equal participation with non-Indian children in all educational programs, services, and activities offered by the district.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the document was unsigned by tribal officials and was presented that way to the board. And, according to tribal officials at the meeting, they were never given the opportunity to do a final review of the document.
School board member Jerry Smith said he received an email from Laguna Governor Richard Luarkie stating that he will not sign the document because he was not given the opportunity for final review.
Joe Aragon, First Lt. Governor of Acoma, attending the meeting and said, “Fairness is what we are looking for. Other issues such as deadlines, opinions and politics can cloud fairness. All we want, including tribal administration, is to be a part of the process. Because it is our people who generate the money, we want to be a part of the decision process.”
A representative on behalf of Luarkie at the meeting said, “We are frustrated and disappointed. We will not sign until there is a process that is followed. Right now, we do not recognize it. If it is just about money, than you guys can just sign it, turn it in and get your money.”
Last year, the document was turned in on time, however, was unsigned by tribal officials.
Tenequer said the only changes that had been made to the document, if any, since the last time Luarkie and others had seen it, was changing common language to “legal” language. Superintendent Kilino Marquez supported Tenequer’s words and recommended the board approve it.
Since December, Tenequer said he has held numerous meetings with tribal parents and officials. The group meetings included the Indian Parent Advisory Committee (IPAC) and Joint Education Committee (JET), according to Tenequer.
“I may not have done it the correct way in some people’s minds,” Tenequer said. “However, we’ve done it in good faith.”
Board members Dion Sandoval and William Estevan recommended that the board approve and if any changes had to be made they could be made at a later date as it is a “living document.” Fellow board members Smith, Richard Jones and President Joel Stewart ultimately disagreed.
Stewart said, “There is some time left, I recommend we use that time.”
Tenequer said, considering the deadline and needing tribal final review and approval, “I suggest the board become more involved in collaboration with the tribes.” Jones, Smith and Estevan said they would help.
Stewart asked for a motion and Sandoval made a motion to approve the IPP. Estevan seconded it. However, the vote was 2-3, against it.
Tenequer is expected to present the document on Monday at 3 p.m., in a special meeting, again asking for approval. The meeting will be in the boardroom on Second Street in Grants.
A video of the Jan. 22 school board meeting is available online at cibolabeacon.com.