U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced that the recently passed bipartisan FY2021 government funding package includes $1.5 billion in funding for the country’s Impact Aid Program. The funding delivers a $15 million increase from previous years. Federally impacted school districts educate some of the most vulnerable student populations — including Native American and military connected children — and rely on Impact Aid for resources. As these school districts struggle to respond to the challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic, this continued funding will help alleviate expected state funding cuts and avoid lay-offs, provide adequate technology for online learning, and spur economic recovery in their communities. Earlier this year, Senator Gillibrand led a bipartisan letter alongside U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), urging appropriators to prioritize Impact Aid Funding to support more than 1,200 school districts across the country including several near Fort Drum, West Point, and Native American lands in Western New York.
“I’m proud to have delivered this vital $15 million increase in Impact Aid funding to provide a lifeline for federally impacted school districts that have struggled to adapt to the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This pandemic has only increased the learning gap and this funding will help students who attend schools affected by federal activity have equal access to the same educational opportunities as other children. Continued funding for the Impact Aid Program will deliver necessary resources for school districts to address the unique challenges of the pandemic and ensure their success in the future.”
The Impact Aid Program is a federal program designed to supplement school budgets in districts that are on a large portion of federally owned, nontaxable land, such as military bases and Native American reservations. Several districts in the North Country around Fort Drum, including the Sackets Harbor Central School District, the Carthage Central School District, and the Indian River Central School District rely on this funding in order to support educational development at schools. Additionally, the Highland Falls-Fort Montgomery Central School District, in the Hudson Valley around West Point, relies on critical Impact Aid funding. Lastly, the Salamanca, Gowanda, Lake Shore and Silver Creek School Districts, which are all located on Native Americans land, also depend on impact aid funding.
Since its creation in 1950, the Impact Aid program has provided assistance to local school districts with concentrations of children residing on Native American lands, military bases or other Federal properties, and concentrations of children who have parents in the uniformed services or employed on eligible Federal properties who do not live on Federal property.
In addition to the letter to appropriators sent in March, Senator Gillibrand has continuously advocated for robust Impact Aid funding during the coronavirus pandemic. During negotiations for the coronavirus relief package, she led a bipartisan group of senators in urging Congress to prioritize Impact Aid funding. Gillibrand also introduced legislation to provide $1 billion in supplemental funding for school infrastructure construction grants through the Impact Aid program to help school districts adapt to, and recover from, the COVID-19 crisis.