Sec. of the Interior Examines Poor Conditions at School in Bena
Across the country, federal officials are touring schools that are funded by the Bureau of Indian Education. The tour is part of an effort to redesign the BIE as it failed to keep pace with the deterioration of school facilities. Secretary Sally Jewell of the Department of the Interior visited Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig in Cass County to see first hand the poor conditions of the high school building.
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, along with Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn and the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwa tribal council, all toured the deteriorating high school building of Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School. This building was originally built to house an auto mechanic school and bus garage, not for high school educational programs.
On the tour, school officials pointed out multiple safety and security issues like leaking ceilings, exposed wires, and poor ventilation systems. The infrastructure of the building affects how students learn. For example, lab experiments cannot be conducted because the science classroom does not meet proper safety codes.
Federal officials will have to make a case and present a budget plan to congress to bring all schools in poor condition to an acceptable condition level. BIE-funded schools are found to be one of the lowest performing schools in the country. The Department of the Interior and other federal departments are trying change that as soon as possible. Recently, Secretary Jewell issued an order to restructure and redesign the BIE over the next two school years.