State education commissioner, regional leaders visit Salmon River school to talk inequitable funding
Members of the Salmon River Senior Class greet Commissioner Rosa as she arrives at Salmon River High School.
AKWESASNE — New York Commissioner of Education Dr. Betty Rosa, several representatives of the New York State Department of Education (NYSED), Regent Roger Catania, members of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council and other regional leaders visited Salmon River Central School Tuesday, March 21.The visit comes after Salmon River Superintendent Dr. Stanley Harper extended an invitation to Commissioner Rosa to come to the district. Dr. Harper asked Dr. Rosa to visit Salmon River as part of his ongoing advocacy efforts to raise awareness of inequitable funding for St. Regis Mohawk School, as well as other Native American Indian schools in New York.
“We are thrilled that Commissioner Rosa made it a priority to visit our school district,” said Dr. Harper. “The commissioner’s tour of Salmon River helps call attention to the needs of our district and others like it statewide.”
The delegation from NYSED also included Assistant Commissioner Dr. Christina Coughlin and Deputy Commissioner Angelique Johnson-Dingle.
During the visit, they heard directly from Salmon River students, educators and community members at St. Regis Mohawk School. Dr. Harper and St. Regis Mohawk School Principal Alison Benedict provided an extensive tour of the facilities.
Conversations were also held with St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Chiefs Michael Conners, Beverly Cook and Ronald LaFrance, all of whom have supported Dr. Harper’s advocacy efforts.
In collaboration with state leaders and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council, Dr. Harper continues to advocate for a new elementary school to be built on tribal lands. It would ideally replace the current state-owned St. Regis Mohawk School building, which is located in a flood-prone area and is in need of significant repairs. To accomplish this, the state would need to set aside additional funding in the overall state budget.
Commissioner Rosa, Regent Catania and the others also stopped by Salmon River High School. The commissioner met with several high school seniors and spoke with them about education and their futures.
The visit concluded with a tour of the Franklin-Essex-Hamilton BOCES CTE satellite classrooms that are housed at Salmon River Central School. Franklin-Essex-Hamilton BOCES Superintendent Dale Breault was also part of the delegation, providing insight into the CTE programs offered at the Salmon River campus.
“We’d like to thank Commissioner Rosa, Regent Catania and the other leaders who made the trip to Salmon River this week,” said Superintendent Dr. Harper. “This visit marks another step forward in ensuring that our students, including those who attend St. Regis Mohawk School, receive an equitable education.”