MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

April 29, 2012

Ruling ends Fort Gibson School summer program

Funds to be used for math, reading for Native students

Parents in Fort Gibson recently received a letter that brought some disappointing news.

The schools will no longer have a School Adventure Program in the summer as they have since at least 1995 when Linda Clinkenbeard, assistant superintendent, began in the district.

Parent Mike Moore has sent his son to the four-week activity program for the last couple of years, and he’s not happy with the news.

The letter tells parents the School Adventure Program is funded by Title VII Native American federal funding and as such, non-Native American students can no longer attend.

Moore said federal funding in a public school should be for all students.

“Maybe I’m looking at this all wrong, but I think it’s a public school, and regardless, it’s federal funding which means it’s our tax dollars,” he said.

Clinkenbeard said the program has been around for many years, and has included students with and without CDIB cards for all those years.

A recent federal audit resulted in the school being told they must change the focus of the Title VII funding to support Native American students only — and math and reading must be focused on as well.

The Summer Adventure Program will be no more.

“We had an actual on-site audit earlier this school year,” Clinkenbeard. “The emphasis is changing with the federal government guidelines. They really want math and reading emphasized, so we are actually changing the program.”

The new program will be called the Title VII Native American Academy, she said.

The Summer Adventure Program previously included some math and science activities but also fun activities and Native American cultural activities, Clinkenbeard said.

The school will not be able to replace the Adventure program for all students.

“It is strictly due to funding,” Clinkenbeard said. “When we are not replacing teachers when they leave, we certainly don’t have the funds available to support a summer program.”

Clinkenbeard said the school was not sanctioned for using the funds as they have been in the past, and past audits found no problems.

Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton@muskogeephoenix.com.

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