More than 7 million students are enrolled in rural school districts; an additional 2.5 million attend rural schools in districts that are not designated “rural” by the Census Bureau.
While federal laws such as the Secure Rural Schools program and the Rural Education Achievement Program provide critical support for many of the more than 7,700 rural school districts, these programs must be improved.
Policy makers should do more to ensure that all students in rural communities realize their basic right to a great public education.
Secure Rural Schools Program
- Secure Rural Schools was created in 2000 after decades of declining timber production revenues on National Forest lands; many rural schools in forested counties depended on these revenues for critical support.
- Payments under the program are divided into three distinct categories, or Titles: Title I supports roads and schools, Title II supports projects on Federal lands, and Title III funds county projects.
- More than 700 counties across the United States and Puerto Rico receive support from the program.
Rural Education Achievement Program
- The Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP) was included in reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
- REAP provides two grant programs: one that makes awards to rural local educational agencies that serve a small number of students, and another that awards grants to rural local educational agencies with high concentrations of low-income students (regardless of the agency’s size).