- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 5, 2016

BENA, Minn. (AP) - Nearly $12 million in federal funds is going to a dilapidated high school in northern Minnesota on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation.

Tuesday’s announcement means that a new school could open by next year on the reservation, the Star Tribune (https://strib.mn/1N7D73X ) reported. Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig High School in Bena was a pole barn that has had bat and plumbing problems, and students have had to evacuate when wind gusts were above 40 mph.

The next six weeks will likely see the start of construction, according to Bug Superintendent Mary Trapp.

A line mentioning the Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig school was put in a Bureau of Indian Affairs education construction budget for this fiscal year by U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum of Minnesota. Hearings about conditions at the school have been held by U.S. Rep. John Kline, and avenues through the White House have been pursued by Sen. Al Franken to get a new school.

“This was not an acceptable place for kids to learn,” Franken said. “It’s been a disgrace. It’s been something I’ve tried to get fixed or replaced for several years now.”

There are roughly 200 students at the K-12 campus in Bena, where Ojibwe children hear the Ojibwemowin language in class.

Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Chairwoman Carri Jones said in a statement that children will “finally have a safe environment to learn and grow.”

“Years of hard work have paid off and I’m incredibly proud and excited there will soon be a new Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig High School,” Jones said.


Information from: Star Tribune, https://www.startribune.com

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