Trustees approve resolution seeking forest fund restoration

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Brookhaven School Board passed a resolution Tuesday to jointhe fight for the reinstatement of the Secure Rural Schools andCommunity Self-Determination Act, a previous government act thatprovided funding to counties and school districts for nationalforest acreage within their boundaries.

The act was created in 1908 to reimburse counties that lostpossible revenue from protected national forest lands, which cannotbe developed or taxed. It was removed from the legislation it wasattached to in December, and several area counties and schooldistricts stand to lose funding – including some substantialamounts – if the act is not reinstated.

Therefore, county boards and school districts in the surroundingcounties have passed resolutions to petition their congressionaldelegations for the act’s reinstatement. The Lincoln County Boardof Supervisors passed the resolution in January, the Lincoln CountySchool Board passed it in February.

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“We are going to forward a copy of our board’s resolution to theMississippi Department of Education,” said Brookhaven SchoolDistrict Superintendent Lea Barrett following Tuesday night’s cityschool board action. “We’re going to do a mailing to ourcongressional delegation with all the resolutions passed around thestate.”

For the small amount of acreage of the Homochitto NationalForest in the northwest corner of Lincoln County, the countyreceives slightly more than $100,000.

Half of the money goes to the county, and the remaining $50,000is shared evenly between the county and city school districts. Bothdistricts will lose approximately $25,000 if the act goesunpassed.

“Several districts stand to lose a good bit of money,” Barrettsaid. “I’m not dismissing the fact that $25,000 is significant; itjust pales in comparison to what some other districts arelosing.”

Barrett was referring to Franklin County, which receivesapproximately $1.2 million for its Homochitto acreage. The FranklinCounty School District could lose more than $600,000 without theSecure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act. Itpassed the resolution calling for the act’s reinstatement inJanuary.