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Lake Shore looks into federal aid tied to students from Indian reservation

The federal government offers assistance to school districts that have tax-exempt entities within their borders, including military bases, penitentiaries and Indian reservations.

As a result, the Lake Shore Central School Board qualifies to seek the aid because students from the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation are enrolled in its schools.

The district has 249 students from the reservation, including 49 with disabilities. It will be awhile though before the district learns whether it will receive federal aid.

“We won’t know until fall of 2015 whether we’ve received aid,” Assistant Superintendent Daniel W. Pacos said. “We’re not sure what our chances are.”

The district held a public hearing Tuesday as one of the first steps in the process.

Pacos said it is possible that depending on the number of applications that are received, two rounds of aid could be awarded during the 2015-16 school year.

“The federal government will decide awards once they review all of the applications awarded throughout the United States,” said Superintendent James E. Przepasniak.

Although Przepasniak did not have exact figures, he said Salamanca City Schools have been successful in their bid attempts since learning of the program. “They received over the past two years several million dollars in federal aid,” he said.

With uncertainty over how much the district might receive in state aid, and with the amount of cuts the district has endured in recent years, Przepasniak said, he believes that it is important to find alternative revenue sources to supplement the budget.

The superintendent stressed that the district is not factoring in any potential federal aid during the current budget building process. He also said that even if they receive federal aid, it does not guarantee that the district would receive aid every year. Also, Lake Shore would have to go through the same process yearly to try to qualify for the aid.

If the district is awarded the federal aid, Przepasniak said, one idea would be to use the money the same way the Salamanca schools have used it.