In this Sept. 8, 2020, file photo, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, leaves the Senate chamber after voting on Capitol Hill in Washington. Credit: Jacquelyn Martin / AP

PORTLAND, Maine — Sens. Susan Collins and Maggie Hassan said 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.