The Whitecap Dakota First Nation signed a four-year agreement with Saskatoon Public Schools this morning that will see its students receive a level of services and funding similar to students attending provincial schools.

As part of the agreement, students and teachers at the Whitecap Dakota Elementary School now fall under Saskatoon Public Schools.

Chief Darcy Bear says the education agreement makes the Whitecap school a more attractive place to work and enables its students to receive a higher level of services.

“It makes it very attractive now to work in Whitecap and attract the best teachers to come to our school,” he says. “As well, the focus here is going to be on the primary literacy because a lot of studies correlate as far as a strong literacy program leads to retention in school and at the end of the day what we want to see is our students graduate.”

Saskatoon Board of Education Chair Ray Morrison says the agreement allows the school division to provide Whitecap students with a higher level of educational support services.

“It’s things like access to special needs teachers, some specialists like speech and language pathologists and occupational therapists – some of those kinds of specialists in education that aren’t found in many parts of the province.”

About 61 students currently attend the kindergarten to Grade 4 Whitecap school.

After graduation, these students attend schools in the Saskatoon Public School Division.

The Whitecap band will not lose any jurisdiction over education as a result of the agreement.

The education agreement is funded by the federal government.

It is the first of its kind in the province and was 20 years in the making.