Bill Could Give $500k To County Schools

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Rural Arizona and Gila County schools could receive financial help if the U.S. Senate passes and President Bush signs an appropriations bill sponsored by Rep. Jim Kolbe.

The bill, House Resolution 4818, would allocate $37,804,750 to rural Arizona. Congressman Rick Renzi has thrown his support behind the bill.

"We've been fighting in Congress to secure rural Arizona's fair share of federal funds," Renzi said."

Matthew Ash, Renzi's press secretary, said of the amount allocated to rural Arizona, $1 million would go to schools in Gila and Navajo counties. Half would go to Gila County; the remaining half to Navajo County.

If the bill is signed, the money will be allocated to new Gila County School Superintendent Linda O'Dell to use for teacher and student development.

O'Dell wasn't ready to make a decision where the money would be used specifically.

"I want to work with the schools, communities and parents to decide (where it would be spent)," she said. "I ran on a platform of supporting and improving our schools, so we'll use the money for a variety of needs."

Payson Unified School District Superintendent Herb Weissenfels said he was unaware of the proposal, but said any additional money his district receives through the county would be welcomed.

According to Ash, the bill has met some opposition in Congress because it recently had a controversial tax provision attached.

Ash said he anticipates the tax provision will be removed, and the bill will be passed and signed into law by President Bush.

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