Letter to the Hon. Rose DeLauro, Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations and the Hon. Tom Cole, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations - Rep. Williams Urges Relief for Federally Impacted School Districts During COVID-19
Dear Chair DeLauro, and Ranking Member Cole:
Thank you for your strong, bipartisan leadership as our country addresses the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. We are confident that your work in the House of Representatives is saving lives.
We write to respectfully urge that forthcoming legislation to aid Americans during the COVID-19 crisis includes financial relief to federally impacted school districts. The Impact Aid program provides critical support to over 1,200 school districts that serve some of the our most vulnerable student populations, including Native American and military connected children.
Congress created Impact Aid in 1950, recognizing that the federal government needed to help meet the local responsibility of financing public education in areas where federal activity has reduced the available tax base. This includes areas with military bases, federal public lands, and Army Corps of Engineers projects. Specifically, the Impact Aid program provides payments in lieu of taxes to local school districts for lost revenue that is a result of tax-exempt federal property. In many of these districts, the federal government is the largest landowner, which sharply reduces the local taxes available to fund educational needs.
The next COVID-19 response legislation should include funds specifically designated for Impact Aid schools. The funds will not only replace failing infrastructure but also provide these disadvantaged schools the resources they need to transition to online learning, meet the social and emotional needs of students, and provide wrap-around services. Specifically, funding for Impact Aid should include robust funding for:
* Section 7003 --to fully fund the Basic Support Program to allow federally impacted schools to adequately 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 --to provide financial relief to districts with non-taxable federal lands to allow them to respond and recover from the virus and mitigate potential state and local funding gaps.
Every American is being impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, but the risks of the pandemic extend beyond the virus itself. It is critical we provide our school districts the resources they need to continue serving our students and families. Support for Impact Aid is historically bipartisan and will help deliver needed relief to some of our most vulnerable student populations.Thank you for considering our request.