Washington, DC—U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD), a member of the Senate Rural Education Caucus, today cosponsored legislation that would level the playing field when it comes to funding for rural school districts in South Dakota and across the nation. The Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP) Reauthorization Act would ensure that REAP funding is better targeted to provide proper resources for schools in rural areas.
“South Dakota students in rural and remote areas of our state shouldn’t get left behind by federal programs,” said Johnson. “This legislation will ensure that students in our state are able to see the benefits of federal education programs that help prepare them for the careers of the 21st Century.”
Johnson supported the creation of the Rural Education Achievement Program in 1991, which is the only federal funding dedicated solely to aiding rural schools.
The Rural Education Achievement Program Reauthorization Act would make federal funds more closely targeted to rural school districts nationwide. The legislation is crafted to modify the current program to give rural schools more opportunity to qualify for REAP grants and funding that they would otherwise be ineligible for receiving.
The bill would result in significant funding increases for South Dakota. The Department of Education estimates that, based on Fiscal Year 2010 funding levels, this legislation would result in a 3 percent increase to South Dakota's Small, Rural School Grant funding, a 134 percent increase in Rural and Low-Income School funding and an increase in the number of school districts in the state eligible for grants under this program.
“Rural school districts face unique challenges and deserve a level playing field when it comes to education funding. I am proud to support this bill and send a message to our students that their ability to receive a quality education is not based on the size of their hometown,” continued Johnson.
The legislation already has the support of the American Association of School Administrators, the Rural School and Community Trust, the National Education Association, the National Association of State Boards of Education, the National Rural Education Association and the National Rural Education Advocacy Coalition.