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    Saturday, November 26, 2022

    Bill to keep federal school impact aid steady will benefit Groton, Ledyard schools

    A bill to hold federal Impact Aid funding steady during the pandemic has passed the U.S. Senate with bipartisan support, said U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District.

    The U.S. Department of Education program provides funding to municipalities for the education of students in communities in which significant portions of land are removed from the local tax rolls, such as military bases and tribal lands.

    The Impact Aid program requires families to return paperwork to show how many eligible children, such as military dependents, live in the community which in turn determine the amount of funding.

    Local school officials were worried about losing the funding due to a potential undercount of children this year amid the hybrid learning model and other schedule fluctuations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Groton receives about $3.5 million from the program, while Ledyard receives about $1.6 million, school officials have said.

    Both Groton Superintendent Michael Graner and Ledyard Superintendent Jason Hartling were concerned about maintaining Impact Aid funding and reached out to Courtney. Courtney then introduced a bill to allow the use of last year’s count of students and keep funding steady. Republican Rep. Dusty Johnson from South Dakota co-sponsored the bill.

    The Senate passed the bill last week and it was slated to head to the White House on Monday for the President’s signature, according to Courtney’s office.

    “Eastern Connecticut is home to lots of military families with school-aged children, and their schools were at risk of losing this federal support at the worst possible time due to COVID-19,” Courtney said in a statement. “Without our bipartisan bill, schools like Groton and Ledyard in particular would have lost significant funding, and would have essentially been penalized for their decision to adopt remote and hybrid learning. Our eastern Connecticut schools absolutely could not afford to lose this funding for military schoolchildren, especially while local budgets are stretched so thin due to the pandemic. I’m grateful to my partner Rep. Dusty Johnson from Oklahoma for joining me to introduce this bipartisan bill, and for all our colleagues who helped work across the aisle to get this done. We’re looking forward to getting a final signature on this important win for our local schools.”

    Graner and Hartling also applauded the news.

    “I was so nervous about this because Groton could have easily lost in excess of a million dollars so this was a huge benefit to our town,” Graner said.

    “I’m thankful that Congressman Courtney responded so quickly and sponsored a corresponding bill in the House,” Hartling said. “This law will help to keep critical Federal Impact Aid level this fiscal year for the Ledyard Community.”

    k.drelich@theday.com

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