By Tamsin Keone (USAG-Hawaii)September 11, 2012
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii (Sept. 11, 2012) -- September 5 was an important day for Hawaii public school funding.
That day students received a federal survey card for parents to complete and return to schools as soon as possible.
The importance of these survey cards translates into funding support. Future federal impact aid will be based on the number of survey cards that are completed and submitted.
The survey cards determine the number of federally connected students in the public school system. Federally connected students are those children whose parent(s) or legal guardian(s) resides and/or works on federal property.
Federal education reimbursement guidelines recognize funding eligibility based on a child's parent(s') qualifications:
•both live and work on federal property;
•are members of the uniformed services and reside on a military base, including children of foreign military officers;
•are members of the uniformed services, but who reside off the military base, including children of foreign military officers;
•are civilian employees of the federal government or who work on federal property;
•reside on federal property, but who work on taxable land;
•live on Indian trust or treaty land; or
•reside in federal low-rent housing, not including Section 8 housing.
Once the survey cards are completed and returned, the survey data is gathered and then forwarded to the Federal Department of Education, which in turn, determines funding support to the Hawaii DOE in the form of impact aid for educating federally connected students.
Impact aid is intended to partially compensate the Hawaii DOE for the families of federally connected students who typically pay less in taxes, into the school district, than local residents who generally pay higher taxes, generally in the form of property taxes.
Additionally, people who work on federal property, in turn, work for companies that do not pay local property tax. Also, people who work for the military have the ability to shop for food and other items at the Exchange which does not charge sales tax. Therefore, Hawaii and its school districts lose not only property tax revenue, but also sales tax and licensing fees.
Impact aid is used in the areas that the DOE needs it most, as determined by the locally elected school board. These funds can be used for teacher salaries, school programs, materials, equipment and supplies.
Hawaii's public schools rely on federal impact aid as a significant part of the education budget. By filling out and returning the survey cards, parents are helping schools claim and benefit from their authorized share of federal support.
Parents are encouraged to fill out and return surveys to schools promptly. Non-response can result in the loss of millions of dollars in federal funds that benefit both our military and local communities.
Every card that is not returned will result in lost revenues to Hawaii classrooms statewide.
(Editor's Note: Keone is director, School Support Services; School Liaison Office; Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, USAG-HI.)