Salamanca schools receive $474K grant for Seneca youth program

SALAMANCA — The Salamanca City Central School District has received a $474,000 grant from the State Education Department for the My Brother’s Keeper Native American program, district officials recently announced.

At the Board of Education’s Jan. 7 meeting, Dr. Mark Beehler, assistant superintendent for academic services, informed the board of the school’s success in receiving the grant.

“We have been allocated a little over $474,000 to be distributed over the next three years,” he said. “A lot more (info) will be coming out in the near future, but that’s exciting.”

The funds would focus on providing mentorship for Native American males and the development of a comprehensive Indigenous Peoples education curriculum for grades K-12, Beehler explained.

“I anticipate on the February board agenda, there will be some anticipated new hires that will assist us with that because that’s what some of that funding is for,” he added.

Beehler also thanked the Seneca Nation for their cooperation and involvement with acquiring the grant, including at the district-Nation summit held in the fall.

About two years ago, the Salamanca school district received approximately $90,000 in a grant through the same program.

The district, located within the Seneca Nation’s Allegany Territory, is comprised of about 1,400 students in grades K-12, about a third which identify as Native American.

The purpose of the My Brother’s Keeper program is to increase the academic achievement and college/career readiness of Native American students, with an emphasis on boys and young men.

IN OTHER BUSINESS, Varsity Baseball Coach Mike Smith addressed the school board concerning funding for the baseball team’s annual spring training trip to the Outer Banks in North Carolina.

“To cut to the chase, I’m here to ask for some financial help from the school its,” he said. Smith said the team is looking for about $3,000 to help with either lodging or food. “I know there are some logistical issues.”

The team consists of 13 players who would be going as well as coaches and advisors, Smith explained. He said transportation is something the team would take care of.

“We’re on the way to raising money. We have almost $10,000 raised,” he added.

Smith said the seven-day trip in April includes several games, practices and educational activities planned during the week.

“We’ll get our five games worth of work in,” he said. “It worked very well last year. It was a very successful trip.”

Smith also thanked the community and the school district for their support last year. School board member Kerry John commended Smith and the team and their recent accomplishments.

In the 2019 season, Smith said the team won three games after going winless the previous three seasons, which he owed partially to the team-building accomplished during last year’s trip.

“For us to go on this trip and build this crew and come back and pull this off… We’re still very young, we’re still building a program here,” Smith said.

Board member Dr. Meghan McCune said last year there were some legal issues with how the district could distribute money, so the board will consult and ask the questions that need answers and get back to the matter at a future date.

(Contact managing editor Kellen Quigley at kquigleysp@gmail.com)