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Congressmen tour 'horrific' conditions at school on Leech Lake reservation


A first-hand look at the dilapidated condition of a school on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation Wednesday left a pair of Minnesota Congressmen vowing to push for federal money to upgrade such schools.

U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, a Democrat, represents that part of northern Minnesota and Rep. John Kline, a Republican, chairs a House committee on education and workforce development.

The Bemidji Pioneer reports Kline described the conditions at Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School as horrific and said they were even worse than he'd expected.

The Star Tribune says the school that occupies a converted pole barn has faulty heating and cooling systems, a leaky roof, exposed electrical wires, and a substandard sewage system.

Nolan tells Northland's NewsCenter the school is also infested by rodents and bats.

Kline is seeking an additional $60 million in federal money to repair and rebuild reservation schools, but the education panel he chairs does not have jurisdiction over Indian schools.

MPR News says Kline cited a "tangle of bureaucracy" as one reason conditions at schools like Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig have been allowed to deteriorate.

According to the Pioneer, Kline wants to hold Congressional hearings to establish which agency is responsible for the conditions at Indian schools. 63 of the 183 schools in the Bureau of Indian Education system are listed as being in poor condition.

The Star Tribune says if the additional $60 million is allocated, that would bring federal spending on Indian schools to $130 million, which is one-tenth of the estimated amount needed to fix up the schools.

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