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South Dakota schools to get federal Impact Aid

Thune works with US Education Secretary to correct data error

March 24, 2005

Washington, D.C. —  South Dakota school districts will receive critical federal assistance next year, the U.S. Department of Education announced today, after Sen. John Thune raised the issue with the U.S. Education Secretary earlier this month.

In a letter sent on March 9, Thune alerted Secretary Margaret Spelling to a bureaucratic mistake that resulted in nine heavily impacted local educational agencies in South Dakota not receiving heavily impacted funding for Fiscal Year 2006.

“The Impact Aid Program is vital to school districts in South Dakota affected by Federal activities,” Thune wrote the Secretary. “This funding ensures access to quality education for children with parents in the Armed Forces as well as children who reside on Indian lands.”

In response to Thune’s action, the U.S. Department of Education accepted additional data submitted by five school districts, including Bonesteel-Fairfax, Douglas, Oelrichs, Timber Lake, and Wagner. Thanks to the additional review, the Education Department now says these districts will continue to qualify for heavy impacted payments.

“I’m pleased the Department of Education is acting to ensure that South Dakota schools receive the federal assistance they deserve,” Thune said. “Federal impact payments are critical to ensuring South Dakota students receive a quality education. I appreciate the Secretary’s responsiveness to our concerns.”

The Department’s decision was announced by Impact Aid Program director Catherine Schagh in a letter to South Dakota Department of Education Secretary Rick Melmer.