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Letter to the House Natural Resources Committee on the Secure Rural Schools Act

July 25, 2007

Dear Chairman Rahall:


On behalf of the National Education Association's (NEA) 3.2 million members, we would like to thank you for holding a hearing on H.R. 3058, a bill to reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act. This program is critical to ensure an uninterrupted, guaranteed funding stream for schools and communities in timber-dependent counties.

The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act has made a real difference for schools in rural, timber-dependent counties, by ensuring them a consistent funding stream. The program has been an enormous success, providing essential funding to over 4,400 rural schools. 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 expired at the end of 2006 and is currently operating on a one-year extension, which was authorized in Public Law 110-28, the Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act of 2007. Failure to reauthorize and fund this program will result in a substantial and devastating funding cut for rural counties across the country. 

For example, an NEA member from Grayson County, Virginia, writes, "We depend on revenues from Mt. Rogers National Recreation area and the Jefferson National Forest. Since we are in a poorer area of the state, we desperately need these funds. Staff will be laid off and programs will be shut down. All of the factories have already shut down causing our school population to be mostly unemployed."

We urge your committee to move quickly to act on this legislation in order to provide a stable, consistent funding stream for schools in rural, timber-dependent counties.

We thank you for your attention to this important issue.

Sincerely,

Diane Shust, Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody, Manager of Federal Advocacy