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Tribes to cast vote on school July 10

Warm Springs tribal members will vote July 10, for the second time on a referendum to fund half of the cost ($10.7 million) of a new K-8 school in Warm Springs.
   The majority of voters in the first referendum in May supported the school, but there were not enough voters to reach the one-third eligible voter requirement.
   Tribal Secretary-Treasurer Jody Calica, and 509-J administrators have been holding public meetings to try to clear up several misconceptions prior to the vote.
   Calica emphasized that the tribal pension and per capita payments will not be used.
   There are two options for the Confederated Tribes to fund its half of the school, he indicated.
   The Indian Head Casino could be refinanced. Last year, the tribes invested $13.5 million to finance the construction of the casino. That amount was to be repaid in dividends to the tribes.
   Now that the casino can show it is bringing in steady revenue, it is possible to refinance the construction debt through a bank. That would free up the $13.5 million to be used for other things, such as the school.
   Calica said the other option would be to take advantage of a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan program, which would guarantee up to 90 percent of the school loan.
   That guarantee reduces the risk for banks and also reduces the interest rate.
   Some tribal members, however, feel that the federal government should provide the entire tribal match of $10.7 million, because of treaty rights.
   Calica responded that, while that may be true, the Bureau of Indian Affairs currently has no money for the Warm Springs project. If parents and community members want to see a new school now, instead of decades from now, the tribes will have to fund the construction.
   In Madras, 509-J district voters approved their $10.7 million half of the funding for the Warm Springs School in May, and bonds won't be issued on those funds until a tribal referendum passes.