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Senators Hassan, Collins Successfully Protect Funding for Rural, Low-Income School Districts in NH, ME, and Across the Country

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) successfully reversed a Department of Education decision that jeopardized funding for rural, low-income school districts in New Hampshire, Maine, and across the country. A provision they negotiated that was included in the year-end government funding bill that was signed into law prevents a funding cliff for a number of school districts that receive funding through the Rural Low Income Schools (RLIS) program, under the Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP), the only dedicated federal funding stream to support rural schools.


See below for coverage highlights:


AP: Collins, Hassan Say They Retained Education Program Funding


Sens. Susan Collins and Maggie Hassan say they've reversed a U.S. Department of Education decision that jeopardized funding for nearly 200 rural, low-income school districts.


A provision that the senators negotiated prevents a funding cliff for the Rural Education Achievement Program, the only dedicated federal funding stream supporting rural schools. It was included in the year-end government funding bill that was signed into law.


“The Department of Education’s abrupt change in eligibility for REAP funding would have forced many rural schools in Maine and throughout the country to forgo essential activities and services,” said Collins, R-Maine.


Hassan, D-N.H., said it was important to ensure that “resources aren’t pulled out from under” rural schools, especially during a pandemic.


REAP is comprised of the Rural and Low-Income School program, which accounted for $1.2 million in Maine and $600,000 in New Hampshire, along with the Small, Rural School Achievement program, officials said.


Union Leader: Granite Status

By Josie Albertson-Grove

[…] The year-end spending-and-stimulus package will include an extra boost to rural schools, Sen. Maggie Hassan said in a news release Wednesday.


Hassan and Maine Sen. Susan Collins penned a series of letters with other senators this year, including Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, asking that the U.S. Department of Education stop changes to a program known as REAP, or the Rural Education Achievement Program.


To make up expenses schools incur because they are in isolated areas, the program helps about 200 rural school districts around the country with extra funds from the U.S. Department of Education. Earlier this year, the Department of Education moved to change the way schools qualify for the program — changes that Hassan said in a March letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos would cut off about 800 schools from the funding.


Hassan and Collins said Wednesday that the year-end funding bill includes a provision that will prevent a “fiscal cliff” for the program, by keeping in place the current method of qualifying for REAP.


“Rural schools in New Hampshire rely on this critical funding coming every year so that they can serve their students, and the bipartisan provision that Senator Collins and I worked on will help ensure that these resources aren’t pulled out from under them,” Hassan said in a statement Wednesday. “This funding is particularly important now amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has presented unprecedented challenges to remote and in-person learning.”