Impact Aid bill officially signed into law
A bill to protect federal Impact Aid education funding for communities, including Groton and Ledyard, during the pandemic has been officially signed into law.
U.S. Rep Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, announced that President Donald Trump signed into law on Friday, Dec. 4, the bipartisan Impact Aid Coronavirus Relief Act. This will allow school districts to use last year's count of eligible students toward the calculation of such aid, rather than face a potential undercount due to the difficulty of collecting forms from students amid more remote learning and schedule uncertainties during the pandemic.
The Impact Aid program allocates federal aid to communities with children living on military bases or tribal lands, among other properties, to offset property tax losses, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Groton receives about $3.5 million and Ledyard receives about $1.6 million annually, based on the number of eligible children.
This "has been an extremely difficult year for K-12 public education. The Impact Aid Coronavirus Relief Act will provide much needed stability for school districts which have unique student populations," Courtney, who co-sponsored the House bill with Republican Rep. Dusty Johnson of South Dakota, said in a statement.
"School districts like Groton and Ledyard with military families are at risk of losing federal impact assistance as a consequence of adopting remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic," Courtney said. "Ledyard School Superintendent Jason Hartling and Groton Superintendent Michael Graner were instrumental in bringing this issue forward to my office, which resulted in the introduction of the legislation. Other school districts serving military bases, Native American tribes, and migrant farm workers joined their effort to lobby their members of Congress, and all of the support culminated in the enactment of this bill."
Courtney said in a phone interview that his office had strong communication from Johnson and Republican Sen. John Thune from South Dakota.
Courtney quoted former House Speaker Tip O'Neill that "all politics is local," and said "this is a case where that really succeeded in breaking through the polarization." Legislators heard from loud local constituencies — crossing geography and the party divide — which helped make the Impact Aid bill successful.
The Impact Aid bill is a recognition of the disruptions that the pandemic is causing, he said, adding that he hopes it will help build momentum for a COVID-19 relief package.