Letter to the Hon. Mitch McConnell, Majority Leader and to the Hon. Chuck Schumer, Minority Leader and to the Hon. Richard Shelby, Chairman of Appropriations Committee and to the Hon. Patrick Leahy, Vice Chairman of the Appropriations Committee - Rosen, Cortez Masto Join Bipartisan Calls for Additional Funding for School Districts on Federal Land in Upcoming Coronavirus Relief Package
Dear Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, Chairman Shelby, and Vice Chairman Leahy:
As Congress continues to consider emergency relief funding to respond to the continuing public
health emergency caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19 or the virus), we urge you to
recognize the importance of the Federal Impact Aid Program and provide a one-time
supplemental investment to assist federally impacted school districts during the pandemic.
School districts who receive funding from the Impact Aid program, educate some of our most
vulnerable student populations, including Native American and military connected children and
children living in federal low-rent housing, are less resourced than non-federally impacted school
districts to respond to the challenges caused by this pandemic.
Congress created the Impact Aid program in 1950 in recognition that the federal government
needed to accept responsibility in areas impacted by a federal presence and help meet the local
responsibility of financing public education. Impact Aid provides a payment in lieu of taxes to
local school districts for lost revenue that is a result of tax-exempt federal property and actions
that have increased expenditures due to the enrollment of federally connected children. The
program provides direct, flexible funding to over 1,200 school districts. Impact Aid funds a
range of programs, including facilities renovation, efforts to retain highly qualified teachers,
adequate technology, and maintenance of transportation fleets. For many districts, this funding
represents the very lifeblood that allows their school system to operate.
Federally impacted school districts depend on Impact Aid due to a limited local tax base caused
by the presence of certain federal land in their districts, including national parks and grasslands,
national laboratories, Army Corps of Engineers projects, and property that encompasses the
military academies. In some of these communities, the federal government is the largest
landowner, which significantly diminishes a school district's revenue base. The next COVID-19
response legislation should prioritize this funding stream in order to help alleviate expected state
funding cuts to avoid lay-offs and spur the economic recovery in their communities. The funds
will also ensure that these school districts have the help they need as they transition to online
learning, meet the social and emotional needs of students, provide wrap-around services, and
replace failing infrastructure. Specifically, funding for Impact Aid should include robust funding
Section 7003 --to fully fund the Basic Support Program to ensure that federally impacted
districts are able cover the gaps in funding compared to non-federally impacted districts
and enable them to respond to costs associated with the virus;
Section 7003(d) -- to support children with disabilities during the pandemic by increasing
payments for students with an active Individualized Education Program (IEP); and
Section 7002 -- Federal Property to support districts with non-taxable federal lands
respond and recover from the virus and mitigate potential state and local funding gaps.
We must not forget about our most vulnerable student populations during this pandemic. Thank
you for your thoughtful consideration of this request.