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.

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