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Council hosts special meeting with Ignacio School Board

Vice Chairman Melvin J. Baker expresses concerns with the Ute language not transitioning from the Southern Ute Indian Montessori Academy to the Ignacio School District during a meeting with the Ignacio School Board Tuesday, March 17.
Photo Credit: Sacha Smith | The Southern Ute Drum



Southern Ute Tribal Council and the Ignacio School Board got together to address any concerns between the tribe and the district, in regards to the tribal students. The two parties have held regular meetings for the past five years and the Tuesday, March 17 meeting marks the first of this year.

“I’m glad I’m here with Tribal Council, we are always very concerned about our tribal students,” Vice Chairman Melvin J. Baker said.

One main concern for the tribe is the transitioning of Southern Ute Indian Montessori students into the public school district, Latitia Taylor Education Department Director, said.

“We have to figure out how we can acclimate the students so it’s not such a big shock,” she said.

Rocco Fuschetto, Ignacio School District superintendent, said what they see is that some children coming out of SUIMA have trouble with test taking.

Fuschetto suggested that the Ignacio School District supply some practice tests for the transitioning students so they become familiar with the testing in the school district.

Another concern was the transferring of student’s information, from SUIMA to ISD.

Taylor mentioned the ISD sometimes does needless retesting on students when SUIMA has already identified learning disabilities.

“SUIMA and the Ignacio School District need to work together better, some of these issues have already been identified,” Taylor said.

Eagle mentioned that the transition is concern not only for SUIMA students, but also for other tribal members and natives transferring from out of the area.

“Hopefully we get some results with the school district, we want to make sure our tribal members and all natives get their education,” Council lady Ramona Y. Eagle said.

Tribal Council also brought up the concern of the Ute language not transitioning with the SUIMA students.

“We need to figure how to incorporate the language in the younger curriculum,” Baker said. “There is that gap between sixth grade and high school that the language is not being taught, and if you don’t keep practicing, you forget it.”

Ignacio High School started offering a Ute Language class this semester and currently has six students enrolled in the class.

“I think it would be good for all students to learn it,” Fuschetto said. “It would beneficial in our tri-ethnic community … I would like to learn to speak some common respectful phrases.”

Parent involvement was also a topic of discussion in Tuesday night’s board meeting. Fuschetto said parental involvement seems to be the same recurring problem.

“We really see the participation dwindle as students enter middle-and high school,” Fuschetto said.

Taylor offered some advice to the school board suggesting they get more face-to-face interaction with parents.

“Mail-home surveys to parents have proven to be a waste of time and money.” She said. “We had a great turnout when we went door-to-door surveying parents.”

Lastly, Baker raised concerns with the agricultural classes. Baker said he wants to see the youth more involved in farming.

“Farming to me is like the language, if no one learns to do it, we’ll lose it.” Baker said. “There are a lot of our elders retiring from farming and they have good fields,” he said. “It would be nice to see the younger people learn how to plow and till those fields.”


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