NEA on Rural Education: Reauthorize the Forest County and Schools Program
NEA supports legislation that would reauthorize the Forest County and Schools Program.
- In the late 1990s, many rural, timber-dependent communities were experiencing dramatic reductions in federal forest land revenues due to significant decreases in federal timber sales. Payments to many rural forest schools had dropped to less than 10 percent of their historic levels. Consequently, many forest communities faced devastating losses of education funding, leading to reductions in teaching staff and other education personnel, elimination of extracurricular programs, cancellation of school meals programs, and postponement of desperately needed building repairs.
- In 2000, Congress created the Forest County and Schools Program to ensure a predictable payment to federally impacted forest counties, regardless of the level of timber sales. This formula effectively removed education funding from dependence on timber sales.
- The program has been an enormous success. More than 4,400 rural schools receive funds under the program.
- The Forest County and Schools Program has restored programs for students in rural schools and prevented the closure of numerous isolated rural schools. It has been a primary funding mechanism to provide rural school students with educational opportunities comparable to suburban and urban students.
- NEA supports legislation to reauthorize the program.