School districts that are impacted by federal land ownership and serving federally impacted students, including military and tribal families, will receive faster payment of federal dollars thanks to legislation authored by Reps. Rick Larsen (D-WA), and Doc Hastings (R-WA). Their Impact Aid Timely Repayment Act was included in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 which the House of Representatives passed today.
"Impact Aid is a lifeline to school districts that keeps teachers in our classrooms," Larsen said. "Too often schools are left hanging, not knowing when or if they will get the funding they need to continue operating. Because of this legislation, schools will be able to focus on educating their children knowing they will get the dollars they are owed in a timely manner."
"A significant percentage of land in my district is federally owned, and I have long believed that students should not suffer because the federal government has taken away a community's taxable land," said Hastings. "I have heard from many Impact Aid school districts in Central Washington that depend on Impact Aid payments for things as basic as paying teachers and providing basic educational programs. I am pleased that this provision to hold the Department of Education accountable for distributing these funds in a timely manner was included in the National Defense Authorization Act."
Impact Aid provides funding to compensate school districts that lose tax revenue due to a large concentration of federally-owned land, including school districts with military bases. But payments are often delayed, leaving school districts with budget shortfalls. The Impact Aid Timely Repayment Act relieves those pressures by requiring the federal government to pay school districts what they owe within three years.
There are currently over 1,300 federally impacted school districts across the country serving 15 million students. In Washington's Second Congressional District represented by Larsen, school districts in Oak Harbor, Coupeville, Marysville, La Conner, Ferndale and Nooksack are affected by the Impact Aid Program.
In Washington's Fourth Congressional District represented by Hastings, Glenwood, Grand Coulee Dam, Granger, Kennewick, Mabton, Mt. Adams, Quincy, Richland, Sunnyside, Toppenish and Wapato School districts are affected by the Impact Aid program.
"Delayed payments from the Department of Education have been a serious issue for many of the federally impacted school districts in Washington State," said Tim Ames, president of the Washington State Impact Aid Association & superintendent of the Wellpinit School District. "Congressmen Rick Larsen and Doc Hastings listened to our concerns and have worked tirelessly to resolve this issue. All 54 impacted school districts in Washington are pleased to learn that the Congressmen's language to ensure timely payments was included in the FY 2013 National Defense Authorization Act. Financial clarity enables school districts to effectively plan and address changing circumstances, which ultimately results in a higher quality education for our students."
"Passage of the Impact Aid Timely Repayment Act is welcome news to Oak Harbor School District," said Oak Harbor School District Superintendent Rick Schulte. "As a result of this legislation, we will be able to plan for and manage Impact Aid funds in a responsible and deliberate manner. Especially at a time when state and federal funding cuts are causing difficult program and staffing decisions, we are pleased to know we will receive Impact Aid funds on a more reliable basis.