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Letter to the House of Representatives in support of reauthorization/funding of forest county and schools program

January 26, 2007

Dear Representative:

On behalf of the National Education Association's (NEA) 3.2 million members, we urge you to add your name as a cosponsor of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Reauthorization Act (H.R. 17), introduced by Representatives DeFazio (D-OR) and Walden (R-OR).  We also urge your support for inclusion of language reauthorizing and fully funding this critical program in the emergency supplemental bill. 

The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination program is vital to the survivability of over 775 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 expired at the end of 2006.  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 support legislation (H.R. 17) to reauthorize and fund it and to push for inclusion of such language in the emergency supplemental bill.  To add your name as a cosponsor, please contact Penny Dodge in Congressman DeFazio's office (penny.dodge@mail.house.gov) or Colby Marshall in Congressman Walden's office (colby.marshall@mail.house.gov).

We thank you for your attention to this important issue. 

Sincerely,

Diane Shust, Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody, Manager of Federal Policy and Politics