Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan toured the Beatrice Rafferty School in Perry, Maine on Monday, August 18. The school is partially funded by the Bureau of Indian Education and is located on the Passamaquoddy Tribal Reservation of Pleasant Point. It is run by the tribe, and serves some 125 Native American students from Pleasant Point and surrounding areas.
Jewell and Duncan toured the school to get a first-hand look at conditions in BIE-funded schools and to see what additional funding is needed for rehabilitation.
They were showed around the school by principal Michael Chadwick, reported Bangor Daily News. During the tour, BDN said Chadwick pointed out a kitchen range in a special education classroom that is used to help heat the room in the winter.
He also explained that the school is becoming crowded because of young families having children, BDN reported.
Chadwick also expressed to Jewell and Duncan how teachers and other tribal entities work well together to make sure children have the services they need, including counseling.
“It looks like they’ve got some great things going on at Beatrice Rafferty School,” Jewell said at the conclusion of the tour, reported BDN. She noted that the biggest need was to upgrade the building, which as BDN reports, has been on a list of schools targeted for replacement for 10 years.
In January, U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud announced a budget that included $18.5 million to replace the Beatrice Rafferty School. The budget that passed included $1 million for planning a new school and the next budget is expected to include $2.2 million toward construction, with the rest coming in subsequent budgets, upon approval, BDN reports.