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Letter to the House Natural Resources Committee for mark-up of forest county schools legislation

September 26, 2007

Dear Representative:

On behalf of NEA's 3.2 million members, we urge you to support H.R. 3058, the Public Lands Communities Transition Act, scheduled for mark-up in the Committee on Natural Resources today. This important legislation will provide critical funding to ensure that schools located in timber-dependent rural areas have secure funding into the future. Actions in committee on this issue may be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 110th Congress. 

H.R. 3058 would authorize transition payments similar to those provided by the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-393), which are critical to the survivability of over 775 rural counties and 4,400 schools near national forests in 42 states across the country. The Secure Rural Schools and Communities program has made a real difference for schools in rural, timber-ependent counties, by ensuring them a consistent funding stream. Prior to implementation of this program, schools in heavily timbered 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, P.L. 106-393 expired at the end of 2006 and is currently operating on a one-year extension. Failure to provide a more permanent solution for these schools and counties, like the transition payments offered by H.R. 3058, would be devastating. Remote rural areas already struggle to attract teachers and public service employees -- they simply cannot afford the lack of security that failure to act on this legislation would create.

Again, we urge your support for H.R. 3058. We look forward to working with you to create more secure futures for rural schools in timber-dependent counties and to ensure great public schools for every child.


Diane Shust, Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody, Manager of Federal Advocacy