Cherokee Nation awards $3.2 million to 92 school districts

TAHLEQUAH, OK (PRWEB) April 14, 2013

Checks totaling $ 3.2 million were distributed to 92 school districts Friday during the Cherokee Nations Public School Appreciation Day held at Sequoyah High School.

This year the Cherokee Nation is making a record contribution to area schools. I believe that strongly supporting access to educational programs for our youth and future generations is the best investment we can ever make as a sovereign tribal government, Chief Baker said. When Cherokee citizens register their vehicles with the Cherokee Nation, we are making a commitment to the future of the Cherokee Nation – our sons, daughters and our grandkids.

Each year since 2002, the tribe has allocated 38 percent of tax revenues from the sale of tribal car tags to area schools to spend how they best see fit. Funds are based on the number of Cherokee students enrolled in the school, but schools have full discretion on how to use those funds. Some schools have used the funding for staffing, technology, after-school programs and more, which benefit all students, even those who are not Cherokee. To date, the tribe has awarded nearly $ 30 million to northeast Oklahoma schools.

Rep. Chuck Hoskin, D-Vinita, who also serves as the Cherokee Nation Chief of Staff, says school officials have struggled since the recession and Cherokee Nation funding is vital to many districts. Hoskin also serves on the Oklahoma House appropriations and budget committee.

Over the last several years, public education has taken numerous financial hits because of the downturn in the economy and unfunded mandates that we, as a legislature, have placed on schools, Hoskin said. What we do at the Cherokee Nation, by providing additional funds, will benefit these schools greatly to best address the needs of their students.

Cherokee Nation education services senior advisor Neil Morton also announced at the event that school districts may apply for additional funding through the Cherokee Nation. That funding can be used for robotics kits in classrooms, summer teacher training and support staff who will act as mentors in math and science classrooms.

The Cherokee Nation has recently expanded support for many high school students, including paying for high school juniors and seniors to take the ACT and expanding its college scholarships for Cherokee students who live beyond its traditional 14-county jurisdiction.

For Locust Grove Schools, this money has saved teaching and support staff jobs, said Locust Grove Public Schools Superintendent David Cash of Mayes County. We know that the Cherokee Nation is a supporter of educational opportunities for their people. We value the relationship that has developed over the years and now count on the support from the Cherokee Nation and its leadership. This has been the worst stretch of budget years in Oklahoma history, but we can now continue to preserve teaching jobs.

The Cherokee Nation awarded funds to school districts in the following counties:

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