U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) today introduced the Supplemental Impact Aid Flexibility Act, legislation that would allow school districts participating in the Impact Aid Program to use previously reported student headcounts on their Impact Aid applications for the 2022-2023 school year. School districts will soon begin to complete their Impact Aid application for the 2022-2023 school year, and this bill would ensure that they do not need to recalculate federally connected students due to prolonged uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Impact Aid Program reimburses school districts located on federal property or for their students who live on federal land and, therefore, collect less in local property taxes to fund their schools.
“In order to support the South Dakota school districts that participate in the Impact Aid Program, it’s imperative that we again provide them with the ability to use previously reported student headcounts on their Impact Aid applications that they will complete this fall,” said Thune. “Not only would this free up time and resources that can be directed to their students, it would also protect school districts from future Impact Aid funding reductions due to temporary enrollment declines as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“The pandemic continues to hit many Minnesota school districts hard, and for those districts that receive Impact Aid, it’s important that they maintain reliable, stable funding,” said Smith. “This bipartisan legislation will ensure that while the pandemic continues to affect school operations, our Impact Aid districts won’t have to recalculate their student headcounts.”
“As COVID-19 continues to impact students and school districts across the country, federally impacted school districts face significant challenges in conducting accurate Impact Aid student counts,” said Hilary Goldmann, executive director of the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools. “These counts determine the districts’ Impact Aid, which pays for staff salaries, student transportation, education technology, social emotional supports for students and more. This legislation is a commonsense way to enable all 1,100-plus federally impacted school districts – including Indian lands, military and federal property school districts – to submit timely applications and secure the Impact Aid needed to provide high-quality education to students. The National Association of Federally Impacted Schools supports this legislation and thanks Senators Thune and Smith for their leadership.”
“Federally impacted school districts once again find ourselves in a similar position to 2020 in regards to the volatility of our student counts from the effects of COVID-19. Across the nation, we appreciate the fact that Senator Thune and Senator Smith are willing to address our concerns,” said Trista Olney, chair of the Impacted Schools of South Dakota and business manager of the Douglas School District. “Having legislation that will allow federally impacted school districts to submit timely applications and utilize flexibility in how families are counted will help ensure that our communities who serve federally impacted students are able to continue to serve students and families. This flexibility will allow us to meet the ongoing academic, social emotional, and safety needs of our students.”
Last year, Thune and Smith introduced the Impact Aid Coronavirus Relief Act, a related bill that President Trump signed into law on December 4, 2020, that ensured schools didn’t need to go through the burdensome process of recalculating federally connected students in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.