Neguse launches effort to refund rural schools program
Colorado Congressman Joe Neguse introduced legislation to reauthorize a federal program that has provided Grand County over $1 million for school building improvements.
The Secure Rural Schools program, which began in 2000, gives school districts where national forest takes up a large portion of the property in the area funding to supplement the lower property taxes.
The program had been authorized to give funding through April of this year. Neguse’s legislation would extend the program through 2022.
“For schools in Grand County and our mountain communities across Colorado, these funds make the difference for students; purchasing textbooks, updating school infrastructure and equipping mountain search and rescue operations,” Neguse said in a statement about the legislation. “It’s critical that our rural communities can rely on the consistency of this funding to plan ahead and to support our students.”
In 2019, East Grand School District received $1.5 million for safety upgrades to several school buildings, the most money awarded any district in the state that year.
East Grand Superintendent Frank Reeves has credited the funding with helping the district maintain quality education for all of its students. According to Reeves, about two-thirds of East Grand School District is tax-exempt federal land.
“As our county and district grow it is vital that we keep our limited resources focused on making sure all of our students have access to becoming successful in school and as adults,” Reeves said. “(The Secure Rural Schools program) allows East Grand to continue to support our quality teachers, maintain infrastructure in our facilities and provide curriculum and technology for our students.”
The program draws funding from timber receipts and other leasing activities within National Forests. Neguse’s legislation to reauthorize the program has received bipartisan support.
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