One answer to the question of how schools grapple with funding for teachers pay, and purchasing books, computers and other equipment is Impact Aid.
According to the Department of Education, Impact Aid is disbursed to local educational agencies that are financially burdened by federal activities.
Students are counted if either parent or guardian is on active-duty, is a civilian employed on federal property (including parents who work for a contractor located on federal property) and if either parent or guardian lives in a federal housing project or on Indian lands.
Since federal properties are exempt from local property taxes, “It’s the government paying its tax bill to local schools,” said Gerhard Guevarra, school liaison officer, Fort Bragg School Support Services.
Think of it this way — if a parent/guardian of a high school student lives on Fort Bragg, for instance, then most of their money is spent in the commissary or post exchange, thereby lessening the amount of tax money spent in the community. So, Impact Aid is an “in lieu of tax program,” Guevarra explained.
A count of students federally-connected solely to active-duty service members (not National Guard, Reserves or civilian employees) show the following approximate numbers for 2016:
Cumberland County Schools, 9,500 students; received $3.3 million in Impact Aid funding as of 2015 to 2016
Harnett County Schools, 2,800; received $591,000 in Impact Aid funding as of 2015 to 2016
Hoke County Schools, 1,400; received $313,000
Moore County, 1,700; $123,000
All payments, per DoE, are distributed by wire transfer directly to the bank accounts of school districts. The funds are not forward funded, which means schools don’t know how much money will be disbursed from year to year.
The disbursements are made two years in arrears, said Guevarra.
Information for Impact Aid is obtained each year through surveys sent by the schools. One survey is issued per child. It’s important for parents to fill out and return the survey because every survey returned increases funding for all public schools.
In 2016, the DoE requested $1.3 billion in Impact Aid funds.
The Impact Aid program was established by President Harry Truman in 1950. For more information about the program, visit www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oese/impactaid/index.html.