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Inhofe Joins Letter Urging Education Department to Protect Funding for Oklahoma’s Rural Schools

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) joined Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) in writing a letter expressing their strong opposition to an abrupt decision by the Department of Education that jeopardizes funding eligibility for more than 800 rural, low-income schools. In their letter to Secretary Betsy DeVos, the Senators objected to the Department’s abrupt change to the methodology that determines which rural schools are eligible for funding through the Rural Low-Income Schools (RLIS) program. The change is being implemented without notice to Congress and after funding for fiscal year (FY) 2020 has already been appropriated.

“While an arbitrary rule change might not seem like a big deal to bureaucrats here in Washington—hardworking Oklahomans feel the impact,” Inhofe said. “For 17 years, the Department of Education through the Rural Education Achievement Program has sought to level the playing field for rural school systems across the country. This recent rule change will strip funds from half of our eligible schools to the tune of $1 million this year. Oklahoma’s rural schools are too important to our state’s education and this cut will have a devastating impact on our students, teachers and educational staff —this decision must be reversed.”

“Rural schools, like many in Oklahoma, rely on the Rural Education Achievement Program for needed funding,” Pam Deering, Executive Director of the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration(CCOSA) and the Oklahoma Association of School Administrators (OASA). “After we learned that the Department of Education was arbitrarily changing its methodology calculation—cutting funding for half of Oklahoma’s eligible schools—we reached out to the federal delegation to help protect us from these cuts. We’re grateful to Senator Inhofe for leading the charge in asking Secretary DeVos to prevent the cuts from taking effect, and for never hesitating to support Oklahoma schools.”

Click here to read the full letter.

The letter was also signed by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Angus King (I-Maine), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.).

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