By MARIAN ACCARDI
Area school system superintendents joined with Garrison Commander Col. Brian Cozine on Thursday to urge parents who live and work at Redstone Arsenal to complete federal Impact Aid electronic forms so those districts will get a share of that funding.
This year’s annual campaign kickoff was at Grissom High School.
“For us, this is a very important event. It allows us to see what education here can offer to our students,” said Cozine, who toured the high school following the kickoff.
“The opportunities here in Huntsville, what the workforce does and what we provide in partnership with our education is very, very key,” he said. “When you look at cyber, space, engineering, a lot of those programs which are very, very competitive across the country, we’re building it here in Huntsville, we’re building it here within the Tennessee Valley region, we’re building it here on Redstone.”
So, “we need to find ways to give back to the education system because – as I was talking to some of the superintendents up here – this is where it all begins,” Cozine said. “Our education, our growth, our ability to be successful starts here in the schools.”
He said that, at the 45,000-employee installation, “we will try our very, very best to find ways to encourage our workforce to support Impact Aid 2022.”
School superintendents shared how important Impact Aid funding is to their districts.
The Huntsville/Madison County community is “very blessed with our incredible partnership with Redstone Arsenal,” Huntsville City Schools Superintendent Christie Finley said. “Redstone and the careers associated with it are really critical to the success in our region,” and the installation also creates opportunities for school funding in the form of Impact Aid.
“Impact Aid helps our districts by providing the much-needed funding for the programs of Huntsville’s tomorrow,” she said. “In fact, the programs that benefit are very much robust and alive in Huntsville, in Madison City and Madison County. In our district that includes robust STEAM programs like robotics, cybersecurity and advanced manufacturing.”
However, “this year, we’re going to be using the money that is contributed by Impact Aid for our fine arts programs here in Huntsville City Schools, and we really want to look at focusing on the elementary schools,” she said,
Finley said the Huntsville system will be “one of the first school districts that will be using an approved electronic form” instead of the original blue card that was sent home.
Parents can access the electronic form in the PowerSchool parent portal, and a hard copy of the form will also be available in schools.
“While this collection looks a little different than the years past,” Finley said, the school district’s request is the same: for parents or guardians who live or work on federal property to submit the forms.
“Your time is an investment for our students today and more importantly, our workforce tomorrow,” she said.
Last year’s Impact Aid funds provided $343,085 for Madison City Schools, with an additional $21,278 for children with disabilities; $221,332 for Huntsville City Schools, with $57,928 for children with disabilities, and $148,954 for Madison County Schools, with $3,000 for children with disabilities.
“We truly believe that in this region – Madison County, Madison City and Huntsville --we are the hub of the protection and safety of the world,” Madison City Schools’ Ed Nichols said. “So, we take it as a very significant mission to impact those young people who come to our community.”
Nichols said that every school in the Madison district is a Purple Star school, recognizing the military student and family support provided by the schools.
Madison City Schools receives more than $300,000 a year in Impact Aid funding, Nichols said. “It also allows us to apply for grants, and we’re currently over $12 million in Department of Defense grants,” he said, adding that the grant money has been used across all levels of the school district – elementary reading, elementary math, career tech and STEM programs.
“Previously, just in the last two years, we’ve expanded health career STEM programs and next year, we’re very excited to get a new grant that will allow us to put STEM teachers in every elementary school,” Nichols said.
“So, we’re very excited that we can take these funds that come to us as a partnership with our government agencies and reinvest” in the district’s students, he said.
Allen Perkins, the superintendent of Madison County Schools, said he, Finley and Nichols meet regularly to talk about how to benefit students across all three districts.
“We all feel that all of our students in each district belong to all of us because the future of our community, the future of our nation depends on what we do every single day,” Perkins said.
In addition to Impact Aid funds, “we are able to apply for federal grants that impact all of our students across the board – STEM programs, STEAM programs, those programs that will prepare our students to go out into the workforce, to go out into the community, to go out into the world to impact our world in a mighty and marked way.”