Reps Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Support Impact Aid Schools
Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and Tom MacArthur (NJ-03) introduced bipartisan legislation to support Impact Aid schools that serve dependents of U.S. servicemembers and federal employees. The Survey Our Military Impacted Schools Act would evaluate the unmet renovation, repair, and expansion needs of elementary and secondary schools in Hawai‘i and across the country that serve many dependents of U.S. military personnel and federal government employees. During the 2013-2014 school year, the State of Hawai‘i supported more than 28,000 federally connected students. The average Impact Aid reimbursement for a student is about 15% of the total cost – leaving Hawai‘i taxpayers and the State government to fund the remaining balance.
“Across the country, too many of our nation’s schools are falling apart, stifling our children’s ability to learn, grow, and thrive,” said Rep Gabbard. “In Hawai‘i, our public schools struggle to make ends meet and are further burdened by severely inadequate Impact Aid funding that falls far behind actual costs. Our bipartisan legislation will evaluate the actual needs of schools serving federal dependents nationwide in order to ensure our children and communities are best served.”
“My district is home to many servicemembers who serve at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and whose children attend school districts in South Jersey. Many of these school districts that educate a significant number of military children, like Northern Burlington County Regional School, depend on Impact Aid to finance critical improvements to their facilities,” said Rep. MacArthur. “It’s important we understand the specific needs of these schools so we can ensure they are receiving the appropriate amount of aid in order to provide quality education for military children. Servicemembers leave their families behind to defend our nation, and they should be assured that their children are receiving a good education while they are serving away from home.”
“Congress has done a wonderful job of addressing the school construction issues on schools located on military installations around the country, but a majority of military children live off the installation,” said Kyle Fairbairn, Executive Director of the Military-Impacted School Association. “Living off the installation in many cases means that the military connected child attends public schools that are in the communities surrounding the post. These communities sometime struggle with the ability to finance construction projects as their tax base is limited due to the presence of the federal property and the voting abilities of their parents due to military status. All military children should be able to expect that they will be able to attend a safe, secure and quality school structure in order to learn at the highest level possible. This bill would be a start in looking at the conditions of the schools that serve large numbers of military connected children outside of the installation borders.”
Rep. Gabbard has fought to protect funding for education programs, accountability standards, and for disadvantaged and underserved children. Earlier this year, the congresswoman voted to pass the FY 2018 omnibus spending package that included an increase of $86 million for the Department of Education Impact Aid program.