JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. –
Public education is supported primarily by local property tax revenue, state monies and federal funding. Most school districts rely heavily on these resources to fund educational programming – classroom instruction, extracurricular activities, professional development, transportation, administrative services and more. The federal government recognizes that school districts like Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester counties face added economic pressures when local real estate has been purchased for military purposes. As a result, the county government loses the property tax revenue that it might otherwise have earned if the federal government had not utilized or acquired the property.
Compensation for this loss, known as Impact Aid, is paid to the local school district for the “substantial and continuing financial burden” that results from federal and military activities. Impact Aid is paid for federal property that is used to support military installations, low-income housing, Native American lands and for children whose parents work/live on federal lands. Payments made under this program are based on mathematical formulas which consider various types of federally-connected children and the costs associated with of educating that child.
In order to qualify for these funds, the local school district must verify the numbers of federally-connected students served by its local schools. During September and October, local schools will send annual Impact Aid forms home. Parents are asked to review the form and verify that the information provided is correct.
Although the form is easy to read and review, there remain a few common misconceptions regarding Impact Aid:
- “The schools are making money off of our military children” – Not true! Administered by the U.S. Department of Education, the Impact Aid program is one of the nation’s oldest educational programs dating back to 1950. Like most federal programs, it was fully funded in its early years. However, since the mid-1970’s, the program has been under-funded. This means that local school districts are NOT being fully compensated for the costs of the educational services they provide.
- “They are collecting too much personal information in one place.” – Not true! In fact, the information requested on the Impact Aid form is the same basic contact information available from school records. Parents are not asked questions about salary or family income, nor are they asked to provide social security numbers or other identifying data. In most cases, they are simply asking parents to confirm the family information and its relationship to federal properties.
- “I am not completing the form since the money does NOT go directly to my child’s school.” – Impact Aid is not about any one child. It provides partial relief to districts based on Federal impact and lost revenues as mentioned above. Withholding the Impact Aid form only denies the local schools much needed funding required to maintain programs and services, which may directly/indirectly impact your child.
- “It’s too much work to fill out all these forms again!” – Not true! Completing the Impact Aid form will only take a moment. While it is true that EVERY child in a family will receive an Impact Aid form, parents will recognize that the forms, for the most part, have been generated using a computer system which inputs the current student information. Parents need only review the information for accuracy. At the bottom of the form there are a few simple questions that can be answered by either checking a box or filling in a few blanks. What else is needed? A signature and a date.
Let us demonstrate our strong partnership with the local school district by reviewing and returning the Impact Aid forms in a timely manner. Please do your part and review the form and return it to your local school. When it comes to serving the over 3,000 military children in the Lowcountry, you can make a real “impact.”
For additional information regarding Impact Aid, feel free to contact your School Liaison Officer, Chris Gerry at email@example.com or call (843) 963-4410.