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The Illinois State Board of Education is committed to supporting rural school districts in Illinois by providing resources and guidance that meet their unique needs.

 The Rural Education Advisory Council

​Illinois School Code (105 ILCS 5/22-95 new​PDF Document​) creates a statewide advisory council to exchange thoughtful dialogue concerning the needs, challenges, and opportunities of rural schools districts and to provide policy recommendations to the state. The council shall perform all of the following functions: 

  1. Convey and impart the perspective of rural communities and provide context during policy discussions on various statewide issues with the state superintendent of education. 
  2. ​Present to the state superintendent of education the opportunity to speak directly with representatives of rural communities on various policy and legal issues, to present feedback on critical issues facing rural communities, to generate ideas, and to communicate information to the state superintendent. 
  3. Provide feedback about this state's prekindergarten through Grade 12 practices and policies so that the application of policies in rural areas may be more fully understood.​​ 
Please see the Rural Education Advisory Council webpage for more information.​​​

 Title V, Part B-Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP)


Title V, Part B of Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015 is intended to address the unique needs of rural school districts that frequently lack the personnel and resources needed to compete effectively for federal competitive grants and receive formula grant allocations in amounts too small to be effective in meeting their intended purpose. 

Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP) funds can supplement but not supplant any other federal, state, or local education funds. REAP is composed of two formula grant programs: 

  1. Rural and Low-Income School (RLIS) Program [ESSA, Title V, Part B, Subpart 2]: The RLIS program targets rural Local Education Agencies (LEAs) that serve large numbers of low-income students. 
    • The U.S. Department of Education (ED) makes allocations to the Illinois State Board of Education, which in turn makes sub-grants to eligible LEAs.
  2. Small, Rural School Achievement (SRSA) Program [ESSA, Title V, Part B, Subpart 1]: The SRSA program provides funds to very small, rural LEAs. 
    • ED awards these grants directly to eligible LEAs. 
    • SRSA-eligible LEAs also qualify for the Alternative Fund Use Authority [Section 522 (a) and (c)] that provides additional flexibility in how they can expend federal education funds. 

Program Requirements

RLIS eligibility requires that: 

  1. Twenty percent or more of children aged 5 to 17 served by the LEA must be from families with incomes below the poverty line based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE). Rural non-geographic LEAs for which SAIPE data are not available that are eligible based on the same state-derived equivalent of SAIPE data that the State uses to make allocations under Part A of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), consistent with 34 C.F.R. § 200.72, are also eligible for RLIS funds.
  2. All schools served by the LEA must have a locale code of 32, 33, 41, 42, or 43 (assigned by ED’s National Center for Education Statistics) or be located in an area of the state defined as rural by a state agency. 

SRSA eligibility requires that: 

  1. The total number of students in average daily attendance at all of the schools served by the LEA is fewer than 600 OR each county in which a school served by the LEA is located has a total population density of fewer than 10 persons per square mile; and
  2.  All of the schools served by the LEA are designated with a school locale code of 41, 42, or 43, as determined by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) OR the U.S. secretary of education has determined, based on a demonstration by the LEA and concurrence of ISBE that the LEA is located in an area defined as rural by the state​.​ 
    • Dual-Eligibility under ESSA:
      • LEAs can be eligible for both SRSA and RLIS and must choose one grant under which to receive funds in any given fiscal year.
      • Dual-eligible LEAs that choose to participate in RLIS may exercise the Alternative Fund Use Authority. All grantees wishing to use the Alternative Fund Use Authority must notify ISBE by the date established. Note: LEAs eligible for RLIS cannot exercise the Alternative Fund Use Authority. 

Use of Funds

Title V, Part B funds for both RLIS and SRSA programs can be used flexibly and in various ways to support any activities authorized under ESEA, including: 

  • Recruitment and retention of teachers, including use of signing bonuses and other incentives.
  • Professional development for teachers, including programs that train teachers to utilize technology to improve instruction or work with students with special needs.
  • Parental Involvement activities.
  • Activities authorized under:
    • Student Support and Academic Achievement (Title IV, Part A) 
    • Title I, Part A:
      • Improving basic programs operated by LEAs. 
      • Activities for schools identified with the highest needs. 
    • Title III Language Instruction Educational Program for limited English proficient and immigrant youth.

Application Process

SRSA Program:

  • SRSA is a direct grant from ED.
  • The deadline for eligible LEAs to complete an application for the fiscal year 2024 school year is May 10, 2024. ED will notify LEAs of awards via email on or after July 1, 2024. 
  • LEAs may check available funds online or by calling the G6 (formerly G5) Hotline toll-free at (888)336-8930.
  • Information on accessing the SRSA Grant Funds in G6 can be found here.

RLIS Program: 

  • RLIS is a state-administered formula program. ​​​

REAP Resources:

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