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Rural Schools Act Passed

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Sonora, CA — President Barack Obama has signed into law a bill that includes rural school funding and that has area educators cheering. Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Joe Silva says it brings much needed money to schools.

“It brings about $600,000 to roads in our county. It brings about $600,000 to the schools. Including other funding, the total is about $1.3 million that’s coming to our county. I’m very happy for our schools and county,” says Silva.

Tuolumne and Calaveras Counties annually rely on the Secure Rural Schools and Self Determination Act federal funding. It was initially approved several years ago to offset declining revenues that resulted from placing tighter restrictions on the timber industry. Silva stresses, after the Rim Fire, lawmakers need to take a new look at the situation.

“Ideally we would like to see the harvesting in our forest increased; let’s say quadruple. The federal funding we get would actually go down each year that the harvesting of trees would go up. That’s what we would like to see so we could be self-sustaining and not rely on the federal government for funding. Instead we would actually rely on a forest that reproduces,” says Silva.

Silva says he has talked with Mother Lode Republican Congressman Tom McClintock about changing the law and McClintock supports the idea. However, Silva knows it will be an uphill challenge when it comes to environmental groups.