Unless Congress restores funding, many rural schools face new era of austerity

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By Amanda Litvinov

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Call 855-764-1010 (toll-free) to reach the Capitol switchboard,  and urge your members of Congress to renew the Secure Rural Schools Act. CALL NOW!

The results of Election 2016 brought a new focus to issues facing rural America. Elected leaders have made a lot of promises.

Yet there hasn’t been any movement by federal lawmakers to restore the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (SRS), which supplies critical funding for rural counties to operate schools and other critical services, including road maintenance and public safety.

In other words, if Congress really wants to support rural folks, renewing SRS is a no-brainer.

SRS funding represents a commitment from the federal government to help support communities on or near federal lands, such as national forests, that were removed from local tax rolls. But SRS expired over a year ago.

Many rural school districts now face massive shortfalls, and must prepare for cuts to staff and programs that will diminish educational opportunities for their students. The effects will be felt in pockets across the country: SRS funding supports 4,000 school districts in 41 states.

“We had enough reserves that we could keep everything running for the 2016-17 school year,” said Karen Douglass, superintendent of the Stevenson-Carson School District in Washington state. “But we have to make $1.4 million in cuts for next year to make up for the loss of SRS funds.”

Stevenson-Carson students could lose music, visual arts, theater, and sports. Class sizes will grow if teachers and paraprofessionals lose their jobs—and those cuts are on the table.

Congress has kept rural students on hold long enough. They have the opportunity to include SRS in a federal funding package that has to be worked out by December 9.

In May and September, Sens. Crapo (R-ID), Wyden (D-OR), and Tester (D-MT) led a bipartisan effort calling on Congressional leadership to reauthorize the SRS program for FY 2016 and beyond. So far, their voices have gone unheard.

That’s why we’re asking you to add your voice. Please take a moment to call your members of Congress, and urge them to renew the Secure Rural Schools Act before they adjourn on December 9. There are too many opportunities at stake for students in the 4,000 school districts in 41 states that have lost this critical funding. Call 855-764-1010 (toll-free) to learn more and to be connected to the people who represent you in Washington.

Stay tuned to EdVotes for updates!

Reader Comments

  1. “That’s the standard technique of privatization: defund, make sure things don’t work, people get angry, you hand it over to private capital.” Noam Chomsky

    1. I recieved my education in rural schools, as did my children. Their education was excellent. We need to recognize there are forces that want to do away with public education and what their procedure may be, but we CANNOT sit and twiddle our thumbs and wringing our hands. We need to be smart about combatting this wayward thought and fight like hell to defeat it. TAKE A STAND AND REFUSE TO LET PUBLIC EDUCATION BECOME PRIVITIZED!!!!!!!

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