Idaho schools will receive a boost in federal dollars from a program designed to support timber communities.
In all, Idaho will receive $23.4 million in Secure Rural Schools payments, Idaho’s congressional delegation and State Treasurer Julie Ellsworth announced last week. That’s an increase from $20.4 million the previous year.
By law, counties receive 70% of the Secure Rural Schools money, and schools receive 30%. That means Idaho schools stand to receive about $7 million from this year’s payments, an increase of roughly $900,000.
The Secure Rural Schools program is designed to offset the loss of timber revenues from federal forests. The money largely goes to communities and schools in Central Idaho and the Panhandle.
Idaho’s Secure Rural Schools payments will rank third in the nation, trailing only California and Oregon.
The Secure Rural Schools program was established in 2000, but funding has been uncertain for several years. This year’s funding comes through an omnibus federal spending bill passed in March.
Idaho’s Republican lawmakers, joined by Democratic colleagues from Oregon, have pushed for several years for a permanent funding solution, such as a Secure Rural Schools endowment.