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Letter to the House of Representatives in support of the DeFazio forest county schools bill (H.R. 3058)

June 02, 2008

Dear Representative:

On behalf of the National Education Association's (NEA) 3.2 million members, we urge you to support passage of the Public Land Communities Transition Act (H.R. 3058), scheduled for a floor vote June 3rd. This legislation would reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act-a program vital to the future viability of many rural schools and communities. This issue is critically important to NEA members across the country. Votes associated with this issue may be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 110th Congress.

The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination program is essential to the survivability of over 800 rural counties and 4,400 schools near national forests in 42 states across the country. It has made a real difference for schools in rural, timber-dependent counties, by ensuring them a consistent funding stream. Since its creation in 2000, the program has been an enormous success. Prior to implementation of this program, schools in forest counties were in crisis, experiencing dramatic reductions in funding. The program has restored critical educational services for students in rural schools and prevented the closure of numerous isolated rural schools.

Unfortunately, the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act has expired. Failure to reauthorize and fund it immediately will result in a substantial and devastating funding cut for rural counties across the country. Congress has only a short time to act before counties have to start implementing cuts to schools and services. In fact, a number of counties around the country have already begun sending out pink slips notifying employees of potential lay offs.

Given the urgent need for continuation of this program, we urge you to vote for passage of H.R. 3058.

We thank you for your attention to this important issue.


Diane Shust, Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody, Manager of Federal Advocacy