U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, alongside U.S. Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tina Smith (D-MN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Tom Udall (D-NM), introduced legislation to provide $1 billion in supplemental funding for school infrastructure construction grants through the Impact Aid program. Federally impacted school districts educate some of the most vulnerable student populations — including Native American and military connected children and children living in federal low-rent housing — and rely on Impact Aid for resources. The Impact Aid Infrastructure Act (IAIA) would provide competitive and formula grants for school infrastructure projects, including school construction and facilities upgrades, in more than 1,200 federally impacted school districts across the country. The IAIA would provide 40% of grant funding directly to impacted school districts through the existing basic support formula with the remaining 60% available through competitive grants. According to the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools, New York State would receive an estimated $8.5 million in formula funds, with other federally impacted districts able to apply for competitive grant funds. With these grants, schools would have the flexibility to focus on their specific renovation and repair needs in order to protect the health, safety, and well-being of students, teachers, and staff as they adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Even before the pandemic, many federally impacted school districts were in need of significant repair and renovation in order to provide a safe learning environment — now, they must be able to accommodate remote learning and public health guidelines to protect the health of students, teachers, and staff,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The Impact Aid Infrastructure Act is critical legislation to ensure these school districts can address the unique needs presented by this crisis and make the necessary repairs and renovations to ensure students, teachers, and staff have safe learning and working environments. I’m proud to lead this legislation with Senator Hirono and I will continue working to include this desperately needed funding in the next relief package so that schools on or near military communities, Federal or Tribal Lands in New York have the resources needed to provide every student with a safe and quality education.”
Impact Aid provides direct, flexible payment in lieu of taxes to local school districts for lost revenue caused by the presence of certain federal land in their districts, including national parks and grasslands, national laboratories, Army Corps of Engineers projects, and property that encompasses the military academies. Senator Gillibrand previously led a bipartisan letter calling on Congress to prioritize this funding so that federally impacted school districts have the resources needed to transition to online learning, meet the social and emotional needs of students, provide wrap-around services, and replace failing infrastructure.
Full text of the legislation can be found here.