An educational version of the Rural Economic Action Plan (REAP) launched in 1997 is being introduced by Senator Frank Shurden. The Henryetta Senator has authored a bill aimed at helping smaller and rural school districts in Oklahoma secure funding for capital improvements and updated equipment.
The legislation would serve as an enhancement to REAP, which Senator Shurden also authored and guided through the legislature three years ago. REAP has funneled $17 to $20 million dollars each year into rural communities to fund fire departments, street repairs and other capital improvement projects.
The bill Senator Shurden plans to introduce to the legislature when it convenes in February would pair economic development with the Rural Education Assistance Program Act of 2000, and create a grant award program through the State Board of Education.
"Our rural communities often times get overrun by the larger school districts when it comes to jockeying for grant money," said Senator Shurden. "This legislation is intended to give rural districts the same shot at grants that even the largest Oklahoma districts have."
This program would establish, organize, and administer a program to improve public schools in rural Oklahoma communities. The program would award competitive grants for capital projects like construction, building improvements and instructional equipment such as computers. The bill also calls for preference to elementary school districts and the grants would not be used for salary increases.
"The REAP program has been widely successful in boosting various programs in our rural communities in Oklahoma. This new legislation could provide a great opportunity for our smaller districts to access additional funding for their schools, just like their communities have been able to do through REAP," said Shurden. "Our children deserve to be taught in schools that are able to accommodate their learning, and this legislation could provide the means to ensure their educational facilities are up-to-date and appropriately equipped."