Supplemental Appropriations Bill Includes an Additional $400 Million for One-Year Extension of Secure Rural Schools Program
May 15 2008
Washington, DC – The Fiscal Year 2008 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee includes an additional $400 million to provide a one-year extension of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) announced today. This emergency funding is in addition to the $100 million that would otherwise have been available from timber harvest receipts.
This emergency funding will help prevent the layoff of more than 900 teachers, school administrators and educational staff in California alone – and a total of nearly 7,000 teachers and staff nationwide.
“Rural counties in California and across the country are facing drastic budget cuts, school closures and teacher layoffs because the funding for the Secure Rural Schools program is running out,” Senator Feinstein said. “The good news is that the Senate Appropriations Committee today approved an additional $400 million in funding for this program – the second year we have been able to provide a one-year extension. This emergency funding will give these rural communities some breathing room and help them make it through the next school year. So, I’d like to thank Chairman Byrd for his help in securing this vital funding.”
California’s rural counties received a total of $69 million under the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act last year. For example:
- Siskiyou County received $9.58 million;
- Trinity County: $7.99 million;
- Plumas County: $7.5 million;
- Shasta County: $4.15 million; and
- Lassen County: $4.01 million.
Here are just some of the consequences for California’s most rural schools if Congress fails to provide a one-year extension of the Secure Rural Schools program:
- Sierra County: nearly 30 percent of the school district’s teachers will be laid off (this represents 12 teachers out of a total of 43); the school district will lose an additional 18 percent of their $7 million budget; and vocational programs will be cut.
- Plumas County: over 20 percent of the school district’s teacher workforce will be laid off (this represents 32 teachers out of a total of 156); class sizes for grades K-12 will be increased; all school librarians will be eliminated; and school cafeterias will be closed.
- Siskiyou County: 17 percent of the school district’s teachers will be laid off (this represents 61 teachers out of a total of 361); librarians will be eliminated; health services for children will be reduced; and busing will be cut or eliminated for many children who rely on transportation to get to school in this rural area.
- Alpine County: 11 percent of the school district’s teachers will be laid off -- this represents two teachers out of a total of 18, but this is a major loss to these small rural schools.
- Trinity County: 12 percent of the school district’s teachers will be laid off (this represents 16 teachers out of a total of 130); a part-time nurse will be cut, leaving one nurse to cover the entire 4,000 square-mile county; and music and art programs will be cut.
The Secure Rural Schools Program
The program was established in 2000 to help rural counties adjacent to U.S. national forest land cope with a sharp decline in revenue from federal forest timber sales.
At the time, rural counties received 25 percent of all national forest timber revenues to fund their educational and road improvement programs. But during the 1990s, as fewer trees were cut, these revenues plummeted by 70 percent. And rural schools struggled to make ends meet. The program has proved to be a lifeline for these school districts.
From 2001 to 2006, the program provided $2.794 billion for schools and road and forest improvement projects for rural counties. In 2006 alone, California's rural counties received approximately $69.6 million. But after 2006, the program expired.
Senator Feinstein’s Role
Senator Feinstein last year was instrumental in helping to secure a similar $425 million one-year extension of the program. She has continuously worked with several of her colleagues in the Senate to try to provide a multi-year extension of the program that would have required that rural counties would receive only gradual reductions in secure rural school funding, rather than a sudden, catastrophic loss of funds.