Fri May 12th, 2017
The Southern Ute Drum
The Ignacio School Board met with the Southern Ute Tribal Council on Thursday, April 27 to provide updates on the Ignacio School District.
Kicking off the meeting, the main focus was on low graduation rates and truancy issues amongst tribal member students this school year. La Titia Taylor, Education director and Ignacio School District Superintendent Dr. Rocco Fuschetto informed Tribal Council about the small number of tribal members who will be graduating from Ignacio on time this year. Taylor said she hasn’t seen such a low graduation rate since 2010. Taylor did mention that some students would finish in the summer, but that it is still alarming to see such a low graduation rate amongst tribal students.
The Education Department and the school district have been working on identifying why this class of seniors seems to be struggling. She mentioned a few ideas of why, poor attendance being one of them.
Fuschetto said the school district, along with the Education Department reached out to students and their families early in the school year – October of 2016 – trying to help the students while there was still time for them to make positive changes and to graduate on time. Fuschetto said sometimes schools go through rough cycles with some classes not performing as well as others despite being treated the same as fellow classes.
School Board representatives said they would be looking into the truancy policy again.
“There are some kids that miss 50-60 days of school,” Robert Shurman School Board President said. “That’s impossible to make up. We want the kids in school so they can get an education.”
Taylor said the tribal government might want to look into implementing a tribal law pertaining to truancy. Taylor used the Pequot Tribe as an example, stating that they saw a change in their attendance issue overnight after they began enacting fines against parents of truant kids.
Fuschetto went on to say that attendance is not just a high school issue. It is common to see attendance issues in high school, middle school and elementary school students within the same family, he said.
Southern Ute Chairman Clement J. Frost asked what the Tribe needs to do to help tribal parents and families.
“We need to help the students and families become healthier,” he said. “I feel a lot of these things we can do … whatever we can do to help the parents.”
Frost also said the parents need to be responsible for their students and teach them the importance of education.
“The students don’t see the impact that it will have not having a diploma … in order to get money in your pocket you need to get a diploma or certificate to get paid.”
Southern Ute Council lady Lorelei Cloud said that finding a solution for truancy and low graduation rates should be a joint effort of the tribe and school district.
Shurman agreed with Cloud on working together as a community.
“Whatever we do, I’d like the tribe and the district to be united on it,” he said.
“I want the same goals for both of us.”
Also discussed at the meeting was changing the year Southern Ute Indian Montessori Academy (SUIMA) students will transfer to public school. Taylor said SUIMA is looking to eliminate sixth grade at the academy; having students transfer after fifth grade.
“We want to align with the school district,” she said. “Kids are maturing quicker and it will help with the transition when they are with kids that are the same age rather than younger kids at the Montessori.”
Fuschetto agreed, “it’ll be a easier transition with the rest of the sixth graders that transition at the same time.”
The academy is also looking to implement the Lexia Reading Program that the Ignacio Elementary School has. The elementary school has seen the reading program improve reading levels in their students. SUIMA and the elementary school are hoping to work together so the academy can use the same licensure the elementary already has.