Despite Coconino County efforts, Congress fails to reauthorize rural schools and roads bill

FLAGSTAFF-The Coconino County Board of Supervisors expressed disappointment that Congress was unable to pass a multi-year reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act (SRS) before leaving Washington for the year.

The Board of Supervisors made a strong effort to educate and inform county officials, schools and our Congressional delegation about the importance of this funding for rural counties such as Coconino County. Supervisors met with the National Forest Counties and Schools Coalition in April to share exactly how funds are used in Coconino County, why they are important and what impacts the County faces if the funds were not appropriated.  

"Losing the funds ... will have a devastating impact on rural counties across the country," said Supervisor Carl Taylor. "In Arizona, the impact means a dramatic reduction in funds for rural schools and roads totaling $7.8 million. For Coconino County, the impact will be severe with a loss of over $4 million."

"A loss of this funding means schools, roads, [and] emergency services will suffer, as well as the County's search and rescue efforts, which all receive critical funding from [SRS]," said Supervisor Taylor. "This may have been our last opportunity to address this critical issue before school districts have to start implementing cuts to schools and services."

Supervisor Elizabeth Archuleta has been working closely with the National Association of Counties (NACo) staff as the Chair of the National Public Lands Committee. NACo has been attempting to find a legislative vehicle to move the critical legislation to the President's desk prior to the end of the year.

"It is critically important for this Act to be reauthorized," said Archuleta. "If the Act is not reauthorized, teachers will be laid off, the maintenance of our schools will be cut, academic programs will suffer, and programs that provide extracurricular activities to our children will be eliminated."

"We will continue trying to find any vehicle we can to attach the reauthorization of Secure Rural Schools," Archuleta added. "We look to our leadership in Congress to make this a priority early next year."

For more information, contact Joanne Keene at (928)679-7134 or e-mail jkeene@coconino.az.gov.

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