Federal Impact Aid helps local schools
Dana Marta, parent, helps students Adrian Cunningham, Madison McPherson and Conner Cook make apple pattern hats Sept. 25 at the Fort Rucker Primary School. Because many military children receive middle and high school education off post in the local communities, federal aid is distributed through Federal Impact Aid, which provides monies to public schools due to lost property tax revenue from enrollment of federally connected children.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (October 10, 2013) -- Many children of Fort Rucker military members attend local schools, but their parents may not be responsible for paying into the local tax bases that fuel the education system.

Federal Impact Aid provides federal aid to public schools due to lost property tax revenue from enrollment of federally connected children, said Kim Kozel, Youth Education Support Services school liaison officer.

According to the New America Foundation website, the Impact Aid Program is designed to directly compensate local school districts for local revenue lost due to the presence of federally owned, and therefore tax-exempt, property, and costs incurred due to "federally connected" students, such as the children of armed services personnel working at a nearby military base.

Unlike most other forms of educational assistance, impact aid disburses roughly $1.2 billion annually in unrestricted federal funds directly to local school districts rather than through state agencies.

"It has been in existence since 1940," Kozel said. "When military bases are located within the boundaries of school districts, the impact aid money makes up for lost tax revenues."

It is important for parents and teachers to fill out the forms with complete information because it could mean the difference of hundreds of dollars to the school district revenue, she added.

"If necessary information is missing and can't be validated, the school could land in financial trouble," said Kozel. "If the information is incomplete, it could mean that the card will not be counted and schools will miss revenue for incomplete cards."

The school liaison officer said local school districts strive to provide exceptional education opportunities for all the children enrolled. This benefits Fort Rucker because the installation does not have a middle school or a high school and all military Family members in seventh grade and above attend school off post.

"Through the bond with Fort Rucker, the schools are financially more able to provide excellent education initiatives through the Federal Impact Aid program," she said.

The school districts send home forms with students whose parents are either military or DA civilians, which are then filled out at home and sent back to the school by the designated date in order to be counted for the school year.

"Schools strive to provide all students with the best educational opportunities and in order to do so they require substantial revenue to fund programs," said Kozel. "The impact aid revenue goes into the general fund of the school district, which can be used at the discretion of the superintendant and school board."

The aid is unfenced money, which means it can be used for any purpose to include teacher salaries, supplies or educational programs.

"Every penny counts for the school districts to be able to provide educational programs of the highest quality possible," said Kozel.

Schools submit student counts based on the information from the cards received, and weighted formulas calculate the amount the district will receive for each child.

The program is based on funding formulas, which provide different amounts of money to school districts depending on different variables, she continued.

"The variables depend on: military living on post, military living off post or civilians working on post," she said.

Enterprise schools have received over $1 million dollars in impact aid in years past, said Kozel, but Daleville and Ozark schools also receive aid.

Unfortunately, the federal fiscal uncertainty could negatively impact the funds available for impact aid this year and next, said Kozel.

For more information, call 255-9812.

Page last updated Thu October 10th, 2013 at 00:00