U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, alongside U.S. Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Tina Smith (D-MN), reintroduced 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 builds upon the American Rescue Plan by providing additional funding for K-12 schools for necessary improvements to respond to COVID-19. The legislation 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.
“Federally impacted school districts are in desperate need of resources to create a safe environment for students, teachers, and staff,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The Impact Aid Infrastructure Act will provide critical aid to these school districts to make long overdue repairs and renovate their facilities to meet public health guidelines. I am proud to lead this legislation with my colleagues and I will continue working to include this critical funding in any infrastructure package so that New York’s schools on or near military communities, or on Federal and Tribal Lands, have the resources needed to provide every student with a safe learning environment 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. Furthermore, Gillibrand has called for the Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Act of 2021, which would invest more than $100 billion in grant funding to help repair and update schools with facilities that pose health and safety risks to students and staff, allocate funding for updates to combat the spread of COVID-19, and expand access to reliable, high-speed broadband to continue digital learning.