Snowflake’s Indian Education Program receives recognition

Photo courtesy of the Snowflake Unified School District Pat Evans, the Indian Education Coordinator for the Snowflake Unified School District, displays the plaque showing the district’s Indian Education Program was formally recognized by Navajo Nation for “dedicated services and outstanding contributions.”

By Amy Lynn Reifsnyder

At the Oct. 12 Snowflake Unified School District Governing Board meeting, Pearl “Pat” Evans, Indian Education Coordinator, reported that during the September meeting of sub-contractors of the Johnson O’Malley Program, the district’s Indian Education Program was formally recognized by Navajo Nation for “dedicated services and outstanding contributions.”

Evans lauded Florine Tsosie, paraprofessional, as someone who “does an awesome job.” Tsosie not only assists with in-class support, she also makes home visits to check in with families. Evans also voiced her appreciation for Student Services, which provide necessary therapies for qualifying students, and the Indian Education Committee for their renewed interest and enthusiasm.

The Johnson O’Malley Program is one of the Indian Education programs in the district that provide financial support for educational materials and staff to support native students. Title 6 is another native support program. Both require a Certification of Indian Blood to qualify. Funds are allocated to cover educational expenses, including $10 purchases at the schools book fairs, participation fees for extra-curricular activities, as well as basic school supplies.

According to Evans, there are a total of 223 native students within the district, representing a number of tribes, including Navajo, Hopi, White Mountain Apache, Pasqual Yaqui, Kiowa, Wilton Rancheria Miwok, Standing Rock Sioux, Turtle Mountain Chippewa, Choctaw, Pueblo Laguna, Cherokee, Xolon Salinan, and Eskimo.

At this time, only 160 students qualify for O’Malley or Title 6 support.  Evans encourages families to complete the CIB process, as the amount of money available depends on the number of identified students in the program.

Students supported by the O’Malley program must be native. Title 6 provides financial support for students who are native, or have parents or grandparents who are. This is significant because of the number of foster children in care with native relatives.

For more information or to volunteer, contact Evans at, or 928-536-4156, ext. 7725.

During the Call to the Public, Karen Perkins, Misty Chapman and Samantha Rencher, members of the Lobo Pride Marching Band, addressed the board.  Citing wear and tear on current uniforms, they requested the board consider purchasing new uniforms for the band. “If we were able to march in (the new uniforms) it would show everyone how awesome our town is,” said Perkins.
Superintendent Hollis Merrill said new marching band uniforms often cost close to $1,000 each, and they are sold in batches. A purchase could cost over $40,000. The board would have to revisit the budget before making a decision.

In other financial news, the board approved a 1.6 percent increase on money earned last year for certified staff that qualify following a dispersal of funds from the state. Qualifying employees are teachers who were employed full-time by schools in Arizona. Teachers employed through third-party agencies do not qualify.

Business Manager Mark Ollerton gave a comprehensive financial report comparing figures from 2016 to 2017. He reported that the overall outlook is positive. “The district spent within the budget,” he said.

The board approved the report, voicing a need to be proactive in anticipating future expenses due to shifts in legislation, which have put the financial responsibility onto local communities. The district also needs to continue planning for unanticipated increases in student population.

The board also approved a formal partnership with Expect More Arizona (EMA), an education advocacy group committed to improving education in the state.
Merrell said the district is already allied with many agencies currently committed to a partnership with EMA. Since EMA will continue to advocate anyway and there is no additional expense to the district, partnering with them makes sense.

Following a request from the Red Cross, the board approved a facility use fee for the use of the high school gymnasium as an emergency shelter in the amount of $600 a day. Charles Foote said he did not think the district should be required to subsidize emergency expenses, but neither should it profit from them. The board was unanimous in their approval. The Red Cross will have to decide if this is acceptable to their organization.

A calendar change was approved for a Professional Development Day, from Feb. 16 to Feb. 9.

Board members voted to review Arizona School Board Association bylaws privately and share their opinions via email, rather than do a line-by-line public review.

The Board also went into Executive Session to address personnel and financial matters, as well as a pending Disciplinary Hearing with no public comment afterwards.

The next meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 9, at the District Office on School Bus Lane.