Courtney Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Support Public Schools Amid COVID-19
NORWICH, CT – Today, Rep. Joe Courtney (CT-02) and Rep. Dusty Johnson (SD-AL) introduced The Impact Aid Coronavirus Relief Act (H.R. 8075) to reduce barriers to full participation in the Impact Aid Program, which supports school districts in towns where high portions of land is removed from the local tax rolls, such as military bases and tribal lands. The bill would allow these districts to use their student headcount from the 2020-2021 school year, which have already been calculated, for their Impact Aid applications for the 2021-2022 school year, which are due this fall. Amid the complexity and confusion of returning to school during the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools are worried that they will be unable to get an accurate headcount of eligible students, and that they will receive less funding than they deserve from the Impact Aid program as a result.
“With so many military and tribal families in eastern Connecticut, the Impact Aid Program is a critical source of federal support for our local schools. Never has this program been more crucial, and the Impact Aid Coronavirus Relief Act will ensure that these districts are not short-changed because of a paperwork requirement,” said Rep. Courtney. “Parents and school administrators should be focused on ensuring their students can get the best education possible this fall. Taking one administrative requirement off their plate means more time spent preparing for an unprecedented back to school experience.”
“Flexibility is critical during the current pandemic,” said Rep. Johnson. “Schools need to focus on the crisis at hand and protecting our students, not a procedural student count that will be largely disrupted because of COVID-19. The Impact Aid Coronavirus Relief Act will ensure our rural schools receive the crucial funding they need and aren’t wrongly impacted in the future.”
“In Groton, approximately one quarter of our students are federally-connected, which means that the Impact Aid program is especially important to our ensure a quality education for every Groton student, including helping us purchase the technology that is so essential in the current learning environment,” said Groton Public Schools Superintendent Michael Graner, Ph.D. “This bill would ensure that we can count on our Impact Aid funding, even during the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“More than 850 Ledyard Public School students live on or have parents that work on tax-exempt federal properties like the Coast Guard, the Navy, and our local Tribal Nations, the Mashantucket Pequots and the Mohegans,” said Ledyard Public Schools Superintendent Jason Hartling. “If the COVID-19 pandemic prevents us from getting an accurate headcount of these students this year, our community could lose the valuable financial support that helps us provide quality public education to our students.”
The Impact Aid Coronavirus Relief Act is sponsored by Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) in the Senate. You can find a copy of the legislation here.