United States Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) and fellow senators are urging for the recognition of the federal government’s fundamental responsibility and support the Department of Education’s Impact Aid Program.
According to a press release from Udall’s office, the Colorado school districts count on the program to retain highly qualified teachers, renovate facilities and meet other critical needs. The program’s mission is to disburse payments to local educational agencies that are financially burdened by federal activities according to its website.
The Colorado school districts rely on it due to non-taxable military and Native American lands within their boundaries, and for Udall, a failure to restore full funding to the program, given these circumstances, would undermine local students’ quality of education and Colorado’s long-term economic growth.
“According to Department of Education data, Colorado schools received more than $25 million in Impact Aid Program funds in 2013 alone,” the release reports.
“A failure to restore funding for the Impact Aid Program would hurt rural schools and districts that are already at a disadvantage due to non-taxable lands within their boundaries,” Udall said in the release. “The federal government has a fundamental responsibility to help provide a strong educational foundation for military, Native American and rural families. I was proud to lead the successful efforts to restore the Department of Interior’s Payment in Lieu of Taxes Program earlier this year and to restore federal mineral leasing revenues last year. The Impact Aid Program is no less important – and my colleagues need to swiftly act to ensure full funding.”
“Impact Aid is critical to support the needs of our military students,” Cheryl Serrano, the superintendent for Fountain-Fort Carson School District #8, said in the release. “Recognizing that the budget situation has been difficult over the past several years, it continues to be very disappointing that school districts across the country have to fight for funding that is a federal obligation. We applaud Senator Udall for standing up for our military families and fighting for the support they deserve.”
Fifteen districts across Colorado rely on Impact Aid funding – Fountain-Fort Carson School District being the largest recipient, receiving almost $21 million in the 2013 fiscal year. Throughout the country, the program provides assistance to more than 1,300 school districts.
Udall, along with 41 other senators, on April 4 sent a letter to the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee’s Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee, urging the restoration of the Impact Aid Program.
The letter provides a little of history on the Impact Aid program which was started in 1950 when Congress recognized the need for the federal government to accept responsibility – in areas impacted by a federal presence – by partnering with local taxpayers to help meet the local responsibility of financing public education.
Read the bi-partisan letter below: