Bureau of Indian Affairs Not Operating Boarding Schools Efficiently

CED-78-56: Published: Feb 15, 1978. Publicly Released: Feb 15, 1978.

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During fiscal year 1977, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) spent about $157 million to operate schools, including 15 off-reservation and 57 on-reservation boarding schools. These provide instruction and residential facilities for students who have inadequate day school opportunities or special education and/or social problems.

The off-reservation boarding schools are underutilized; six schools visited have a combined membership of 2,654 but could easily accommodate 3,890 students. BIA has not established criteria for optimum capacities for boarding schools and has not yet established staffing and funding criteria. Per-pupil costs and staffing are greater at off-reservation than at on-reservation schools which are more fully utilized. Eligibility criteria for admitting students, based on availability of public or Federal day schools or special problems, have been largely ignored. Many questionable purchases have been made at the schools because of inadequate management controls. Four Navajo schools reviewed were in poor condition because of problems resulting from the centralized maintenance system. The off-reservation schools were in better condition, with more staff and funds for maintenance.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs to: instruct area offices, agency offices, and boarding schools to follow established eligibility criteria and admission procedures; develop space utilization, staffing, and funding criteria for boarding schools that will insure efficient operation and that the education needs of Indian children will be met; consolidate boarding schools and dispose of unneeded facilities in accordance with established criteria and procedures; include provisions for linking procurements to specific education needs; develop a system to provide information with which to monitor program expenditures and/or determine need for evaluations; monitor and evaluate expenditures at the school level periodically; reevaluate staffing and funding of maintenance at Navajo area schools and make necessary adjustments for adequate maintenance; and implement plans to decentralize and simplify the Navajo area maintenance system.

    Agency Affected:


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