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House Votes to Pass Courtney’s Bipartisan Bill to Safeguard Educational Impact Aid for Military Schoolchildren

October 5, 2020
Press Release

NORWICH, CT – On Friday, Congressman Joe Courtney’s (CT-02) bipartisan bill to safeguard Educational Impact Aid for military schoolchildren amid the pandemic was passed in the U.S. House of Representatives. Rep. Courtney’s Impact Aid Coronavirus Relief Act (H.R. 8472) would ensure that Federal Impact Aid for public school districts with high concentrations of children of U.S. servicemembers will not be adversely affected by COVID-19. Amid the complexity of returning to school this fall, 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. Courtney’s bipartisan bill requires the U.S. Department of Education to use last year’s census of children of servicemembers when calculating the funding amount that local school districts will receive for the new 2021 school year.

Courtney first introduced H.R. 8472 on August 25th, and was joined by Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD) as an original co-sponsor. The Impact Aid Coronavirus Relief Act was passed in the House by unanimous consent on Friday, October 2nd.

“Given the disruption of normal school enrollment caused by COVID-19, this bill was necessary to make sure that ‘host communities’ that support military families are not penalized by the adoption of remote and hybrid learning,” Rep. Courtney stated. “In eastern Connecticut, the Groton and Ledyard school districts in particular risked losing significant funds caused by a lower student count, and are diverting scarce resources to conduct this audit at this unprecedented time when schools are already stretched thin. Getting the routine paperwork submitted to verify funding is anything but routine this year. As a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, I was pleased to work with my Republican colleague from South Dakota Dusty Johnson to move this measure through the House in the midst of so much turmoil surrounding the COVID crisis.”

“This bill is enormously important to Groton; the Town depends on the Impact Aid Grant to support the education of over 1,000 military dependents,” said Groton Public Schools Superintendent Michael Graner, Ph.D. “With the pandemic disrupting normal school operations, using last year's enrollment data will provide a far more accurate count of the military children attending Groton Public Schools. The school district and town officials are deeply grateful to Congressman Courtney for his leadership on this issue.”

“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. “We had significant concerns that due to the pandemic, getting the documentation and the application process 100% complete would be next to impossible and would have resulted in a loss of critical financial support that helps us provide quality public education to our students. We are grateful that Congressman Courtney heard our concerns, sponsored this legislation, and was a key leader of its passage in the House.”

Rep. Courtney led the introduction of the bipartisan Impact Aid Coronavirus Relief Act on August 25th. The bill’s standalone Senate companion is S. 4063, sponsored by Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Tina Smith (D-MN).