HELENA — Montana lawmakers are advancing a proposal that would encourage schools to develop Indian language immersion programs.
Representatives passed Senate Bill 272 by a 72-26 vote Friday. Democratic Sen. Jonathan Windy Boy’s proposal seeks to perpetuate the integrity of Native American culture and languages by subsidizing programs taught in an Indian language at least half of every school day.
The measure would make limited funding available to Crow, Salish and other Indian language programs in public school districts where at least 10 percent of students are Native American or districts that border or lie within tribal reservations.
Currently no public schools offer Indian language immersion programs. The Governor’s Office of Budget and Program Planning expects some would be created if the bill reaches Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock. Each school would receive roughly $50,000 annually.
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