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WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – Before concluding its spring session last week, the Navajo Nation Council passed legislation to provide supplemental funding to assist Navajo Head Start.

Delegates approved using approximately $3.6 million from the Unreserved Undesignated Fund Balance as a cash match for a grant awarded to Navajo Head Start by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The department awards 80 percent of the cost of a Head Start program and expects the grantee to fund the remaining 20 percent from cash or in-kind donations or services, according to the legislation.

Delegate Jonathan Hale, who sponsored the bill, explained the federal government awarded approximately $22 million to the tribe.

The tribe is responsible for $5.6 million, and Navajo Head Start provided an in-kind contribution of $2 million, resulting in the need for a cash match of $3.6 million, according to a press release from the speaker's office.

In addition to passing the bill 20-0, the council approved an amendment by Delegate Seth Damon to provide $48,000 in additional funding to the program. The additional funding will provide $500 to each of the 96 Navajo Head Start centers to purchase caps, gowns and promotional items for graduation ceremonies.

The bill will be submitted to Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye’s office for his consideration, according to the release. Begaye has 10 calendar days to review the resolution and veto it or concur with its passage.

Other action included passage of a five-year expenditure plan for the accrued interest earned from the principal balance of the tribe’s permanent trust fund.

The council confirmed the range unit boundaries and grazing districts established by the Bureau of Indian Affairs for the Navajo Partitioned Lands in Arizona.

Delegates voted 18-1 to confirm Crystal J. Deschinny as executive director of the Division of Economic Development.

The council approved the appointment of Floyd Stevens to the Navajo Nation Government Development Commission and to reinstate Desirae Abbigail Deschine as a tribal member.

A bill to create the Navajo Nation Business Court was tabled.

Two pieces of legislation failed to generate enough support for passage. The first would have authorized $43,766 in supplemental funding to pay for the transportation and set-up of a modular building in the Tsayatoh Chapter. The second bill would have amended and clarified the duties and responsibilities for the Office of Legislative Services.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.

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