• December 27, 2014

Cove ISD still lobbying for new Impact Aid law

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Posted: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 10:48 pm

COPPERAS COVE — The Copperas Cove Independent School District is still lobbying for a law to ease its recent loss of federal Impact Aid funding.

Superintendent Joe Burns and board members who attended the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools spring conference in Washington, D.C., earlier this month shared information about their trip Tuesday during the board’s regular meeting.

Burns said the legislation the Cove district proposed at the conference would make it easier for districts to deal with the staffing and planning brought on by a smaller financial footprint.

“We carried a piece of language forward that’s called a special rule that will allow districts who are no longer eligible for Impact Aid to not fall off the cliff immediately, but to have a three-year phase-out of those funds,” Burns said.

“It’s not just a fix for us. It’s a fix to the Impact Aid law that would benefit any district and allow them some additional transition time as they no longer become eligible for Impact Aid.”

The district is approaching the multiyear, tiered reduction of millions of dollars in Heavy Impact Aid since the district no longer meets the requirements to receive the aid.

For the 2014-2015 school year, Burns said the district expects to receive as little as 70 percent of the $16 million in federal Impact Aid it received this school year. Aid is awarded to districts based on the number of students who belong to active-duty military families and students of third-party contractors. The grant helps districts make up for lost revenues and additional costs associated with the federal presence of nontaxable federal land and installations.

Based on its formula, in order for Cove ISD to continue to receive Impact Aid funding, 35 percent of the total student population must be military dependents. This school year, only 34.08 percent of students meet this designation.

Although Burns said he’s not “optimistic” the law his district proposed will pass this legislative session, he said the face-to-face meetings were productive. He plans to return to Washington, D.C., in April for more meetings with representatives.

“You have to be almost a pest without being a pest to make sure they understand how important it is to you,” Burns said. “It’s all about relationships when you got to D.C. We want to make sure they know us and they see us in a positive light. Yes, we have a problem, (but) here’s a solution.”

Since many districts attended the conference, board members said they were pleased to get one-on-one time with elected officials to present Copperas Cove’s “unique” situation.

“I was pleased by the fact that we got to see all the staff members of our representatives and our senators,” said board member Mike Wilburn. “They all seemed very receptive to what we have to say and I think we may get some help with our special situation with Impact Aid.”

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