Friday, 25 March 2016

Interesting funding source for rural schools in the US

Rural schools and communities located near national forest land in 41 states and Puerto Rico will share $272 million this year in funding as part of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act, according to an announcement by the USDA. 

The funding is meant to provide consistent support for rural communities that rely on timber revenue in part to keep schools and educational programs running. The timber revenue program was established in 2000 and expired in 2006, but received multiple extensions until it expired again in 2014. At that point, the funding formula reverted to one that was created in 1908, which deeply cut revenue to schools and forced 41 states to share about $50 million in funding. 

As a result, schools across the country reported sharp cuts in funding, with some districts losing nearly 96 percent of their funding from the bill, and states reporting the potential closure of educational programs, like preschool. 

In 2015, the program was extended again as part of a ' doc fix ' bill, and $285 million was paid to 41 state and Puerto Rico.

According to a press release by the USDA, the projected payment amounts for each state can be found here.

Story by Jackie Mader from Education Week 

This is an interesting approach to supporting rural education at the source. Maybe big miners and big agribusiness here in Australia should be required to fund local rural schools in parts of The country where they have dug big holes in the ground or have massive feedlots? 

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