Washington, D.C. — Today the Center for American Progress released a new analysis describing how the upcoming federal sequester has already forced budget cuts to schools located on or near military installations.
While the vast majority of federal government money provided to school districts is forward funded, that is not the case with a program known as “Impact Aid.” Impact Aid is a method of compensating local schools that are heavily impacted by activities or commitments of the federal government—such as school districts located on or near military installations or Native American reservations. Because Impact Aid funds are distributed the same year that they are appropriated, the cut to Impact Aid hits this year’s budget—not next year’s.
“What is particularly remarkable about this unfortunate situation is the lack of concern or support being exhibited in Congress,” said Scott Lilly, author of the analysis and Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. “There has been little visible sign of activity or even recognition that this problem exists. In fact, members of Congress representing districts affected by cuts to Impact Aid seem committed to carrying through with the cuts or even making them bigger.”
Altogether there are more than 1,000 Impact Aid school districts across the nation and together they get more than $1 billion each year in federal payments. About three-quarters of that money, however, goes to the 160 most heavily impacted districts. The analysis released today includes a breakdown of the 160 most heavily impacted districts, detailing how much each of these districts stands to lose. If Congress fails to act and the looming sequestration were to go into effect, Impact Aid would face a cut of 9 percent.
The pending cuts leave these school districts in an awkward position. If they cut their payrolls now, reducing the teacher force and eliminating educational resources, they may find out in a few months that cuts have been reversed and that they have unnecessarily shortchanged their students. On the other hand, if they keep their spending at the current rate until they are sure what Congress is going to do, they may be forced to make deeper cuts later in the school year.
Read the full analysis:
- Military Families Whacked by Sequestration by Scott Lilly
- View a list of school districts receiving Impact Aid payments of more than $100,000 in FY 2012 (.xls)
- How Sequestration Would Work
- Sequestration Is a Swiftly Ticking Time Bomb
- U.S. Airports That Face Closure Under Looming Automatic Spending Cuts
To speak with an expert on this topic, please contact Katie Peters at 202.741.6285 or gro.ssergorpnacirema@sretepk.