Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

July 15, 2010

CSKT's Educational Planning and Review Team seeks public input

PABLO For the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes to place its people into technical positions of advanced technology, entrepreneurship, management and leadership, the next generation of leaders must have access to the proper training and preparation. A group of tribal leaders is seeing that the offered "education assets" of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes are put to the most efficient use.

Since last spring, a group called the Educational Planning and Review Team, also called EdPaRT, appointed by Tribal Council, has met regularly to craft a strategy that addresses the education system from pre-natal education to post undergraduate college degrees.

Now the group is ready for wider input from people who also believe that among the most important things to CSKT's success is an education system that sees to the needs of its people.

"This is the most important thing I've done in my life," said Vic Charlo, a member of EdPaRT.

The Tribes' education department is active, but scattershot, said the group at a recent retreat. The education department currently consists of three positions (if you don't count the Department Head and Receptionist) and has focused in recent years on scholarship support and parent/student advocacy. However, there's also education work done with pre-school students, vocational education at Kicking Horse Job Corps and college students at Salish Kootenai College.

Individual departments also do public education about CSKT. Also a part of the equation is Nkwusm, the public schools system and Two Eagle River School. The EdPaRT group has taken on the challenge of researching the needs and seeing what resources can be shifted to make the greatest impact.

"To me, this is an amazing process," said Marie Torosian, committee member and education and outreach employee for The Peoples' Center. "It's important to me to help our tribal kids be successful."

Now EdPaRT is seeking more input from everyone impacted by the Flathead Indian Reservation education systems. A list of committee members is included should anyone want to share ideas or insight into what could help young people excel please contact these people. Steve York was originally appointed to EdPaRT, but left for a position in the Office of Public Instruction in Helena.

Committee member Kevin Howlett said he's been waiting 30 years for this process to start. The group took on a daunting task, which at times felt overwhelming, but now the group is ready to advance. "This is a new dimension of education and the education process," Howlett said.

Now the group as a whole feels a strong sense of hope and direction, and they want community input.

Community meetings will be held on Wednesdays at several towns this fall to gather public comments beginning with Arlee on September 22. Times and locations will be announced as they progress. Dixon/Charlo is slated next on September 29. Mission will be the third site on October 6. Ronan's meeting will be the following Wednesday, October 13. Pablo's meeting is set for October 20 and Polson's will be October 27. The tri-cities of Elmo, Big Arm and Dayton will have a combined meeting on November 3 with Hot Springs chalking up the last community meeting on November 10.

Committee Members Contact Information
Kevin Howlett 726-3831 (hm) 745-3525, ext. 5021 (wk)
Jeanne Christopher 883-2511 (hm) 676-4509 (wk)
Shelly Fyant, Co-Chair 546-5633 (cell) 644-2217, ext. 6302
Leslie Caye (no contact information listed)
Victor Charlo 246-3555 (hm)
Clarice King 726-4489 (hm) 675-0292 (wk) 824-2118 (cell)
Marie Torosian 745-2747 675-0160, ext. 2104
Andy Holmlund, Co-Chair 676-0977 (hm) 676-3390, ext. 3200 (wk) 250-5999 (cell)
Elaine Meeks 883-5850 (hm) 883-6333, ext. 502 (wk)
Molly Billedeaux 676-2885 (hm) 883-6355 (wk) mbilledeaux@
Penny Kipp 824-2056 (hm) 675-2700, ext. 1072
Gale Decker (no contact information listed)
Joe McDonald (no contact information listed)
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