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Rural Ed Fares Well in Federal Budget

Rural education ended up being one of a relatively small number of areas that will see more federal funding under the budget compromise Congress reached in December.

Noelle Ellerson, assistant director of policy analysis and advocacy for the American Association of School Administrators, said rural education did well in terms of funding for the Rural Education Achievement Program. REAP initiatives are "designed to help rural districts that may lack the personnel and resources to compete effectively for federal competitive grants and that often receive grant allocations in amounts that are too small to be effective in meeting their intended purposes," according to the program's Web site.

REAP programs received $174.5 million in fiscal year 2011, and, even with the across-the-board federal cut, those programs will get $179.2 million in this fiscal year. That's an increase of about $4.7 million.

"Any increase in rural funding is significant, at least symbolically, because it represents a commitment to rural education funding that has been surprisingly void (especially in the context of Race to the Top and even Investing in Innovation," Emerson said. The increase "isn't as large as we would perhaps advocate for, but given that REAP hasn't received an increase in the last few years, this is a good step."

The fiscal 2012 budget technically began in October 2011. (The department's overall budget stayed about the same at $68 billion.)

If you're interested in other areas that will see more or less money, my EdWeek colleagues have done a nice job of explaining that.

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