Federal education programs focus on Native students

Posted: Friday, September 01, 2000

Native students on the Kenai Peninsula are eligible for special programs via the federal government.

In addition to the education grants received this year for the Lightspan project in villages and occasional grants from the Johnson-O'Malley program, the bulk of the special funding and requirements for the Kenai Penin-sula Borough School District come from the Title IX federal entitlement for Indian and Alaska Native education.

"You have to be Native to get the money," explained Rick Matiya, the district's director of federal programs. "We can't be spending Native funding on non-Native students."

In the 1999-2000 school year, the district had 958 students (about 10 percent of the total enrollment) who were eligible under Title IX guidelines. It received about $200,000 in Title IX funding, based on the head count.

In the spring, some families were concerned about proposed changes in the tutoring classes offered through Title IX.

Matiya said the changes were proposed to broaden and upgrade the study skills program by combining it with other help classes. The proposed changes did not come about because the district was unable to find the suitable staff for the revised program.

The district abandoned the idea and will continue offering the same tutoring classes as it has in the past, he stressed.

The district looks at the total number of Native students in a school and at the percentages of Natives when distributing the Title IX funds.

Most of the Native students on the peninsula attend the district's biggest schools, not village schools, Matiya said.

The district cannot provide Title IX services to all Native students, he said.

About half do not get services because of geography. At the schools with services, most of the money goes into tutoring programs for targeted students who need extra help, he said.

Matiya estimated that 250 to 300 students received tutoring services last year.

Some of the money pays for peninsula Native Youth Olympics programs and for student leadership conferences.

None of it pays for administration, he said.

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