Some Rural Schools Among First to Face Sequester Cuts

Last Updated: April 16, 2013

This article appeared in the April 2013 Rural Policy Matters.

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States and school districts have been asked to return $17.9 million in funds already distributed through the Secure Rural Schools Act (SRSA). That law, passed in 2000, provides funding to support education, infrastructure, and emergency services in 770 mostly rural counties. The funding is intended to help offset the loss of revenue resulting from the presence of non-taxable federal lands in rural counties and to make up for lost revenues resulting from changes in federal activities, such as timber harvesting, on those lands. Nearly 4,500 schools receive funding through the program.

SRSA funds were released to states in January. As part of the 2013 budget, they are now subject to a 5.1% cut under sequester. In March, the U.S. Department of Agriculture sent letters to 41 governors detailing the amount the state must return and outlining options for repayment. The AASA has collected those letters here. (Scroll through to find your state’s letter.)

In late March, 30 members of Congress sent a letter to Tom Vilsack, Secretary of U. S. Department of Agriculture, and Jeffrey Zients, Acting Director of The Office of Management and Budget, asking to halt the action. The letter, which you can read here, accuses the Obama administration of an “obvious attempt ... to make the sequester as painful as possible.”

The organization Education Votes has established a webpage to collect stories of how these budget cuts are affecting rural schools. You can enter your stories here.

Read more:

News coverage:

Letters to states:

Letter to Vilsack and Zients from members of Congress:

Share your SRSA story at Education Votes:


Read more from the April 2013 Rural Policy Matters.