Measure urges federal money for rural schools
State senators may soon act on a resolution that would urge Congress to provide stable funding to roads and schools in rural counties with U.S. Forest Service lands, said Bill Bird, spokesman for Sen. Sam Aanestad, R-Grass Valley.A measure authored by Aanestad requesting the federal money was approved unanimously by the Senate Committee on Education this week, Bird said. The measure will go to the Senate floor within a month, he added.The measure comes at a time when budget cuts are jeopardizing jobs and services in schools in Nevada County and elsewhere, doubling the effect of declining revenues that come with shrinking school attendance.Through the measure, state senators want Congress to make up for money formerly channeled to rural schools through the Secure Schools and Community Self Determination Act. In 1908, the National Forest Revenue Act promised money from timber sales to rural schools in areas with national forests. But with environmental concerns limiting the federal timber sales program in the 1990s, Congress passed the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act in 2000 to continue funding rural schools. The Secure Rural Schools Act expired last year but was extended to September 2009, Bird said.Nevada County receives about $637,000 a year from the Secure Rural Schools Act, he said. Half the money goes to county schools and the other half to maintain roads, he added.There is no funding commitment for 2009 or 2010, Bird said. If schools dont get that funding commitment, they will have to send out letters warning teachers of cutbacks.This is not a binding measure, Bird said. It is urging Congress to renew this program, Bird said. The Congress may choose either to take actions or ignore it.