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Bill seeks to improve school funding

A provision attached to the current Senate Defense Authorization Bill may assist in alleviating future funding issues for local schools.

The Impact Aid Improvement Act of 2012, which could affect the timeline of payments made to school districts under the Impact Aid Program, was attached to the 2013 defense bill on May 24 and seeks to hasten payments by cutting the wait time in half.

Currently, payments made through Impact Aid, which disburses aid to educational agencies that are deemed “burdened by federal activities,” such as the local Navy, can be made up to six years after the fiscal year in which the money was appropriated. The new provision seeks to ensure that the payment process is hastened by as much as three years.

The designation of federal activities by the Department of Education includes school districts that lose revenue through presence of tax-exempt federal properties such as tribal lands and military bases and includes multiple local school districts. The Central Kitsap School District lost much of its impact aid and faced its largest budget shortfall ever in 2012 and going into 2013.

This package includes a new requirement that ensures school districts receive their Impact Aid payments in a timely manner, no later than September of the second fiscal year after the funds were appropriated.

David McVicker, executive director of Central Kitsap School District Business and Operations, said the bill might assist the district which generally gets paid four years after money is allocated. The provision could shorten that time frame to three years, which could help not only with the timeline involved in receiving payments but with other elements of school funding as well, he said.

“The good news is that whatever money we receive will not be six years out and hopefully will include higher distributions,” McVicker said.

McVicker cited the delay in funding as an ongoing problem for the CKSD budget.

Senator Patty Murray, a former preschool teacher and school board member, in late May said, “We owe it to the school districts serving our state’s Military and tribal communities to make sure they are getting the resources and support they need in a timely fashion.”

The bill still must pass through Congress, but McVicker said the changes could prove helpful with future projects such as the rebuilding of Jackson Park Elementary should the bill pass.

 

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