COPPERAS COVE — As the Copperas Cove Independent School District approaches a multiyear, tiered reduction of millions of dollars in Heavy Impact Aid, administrators are weighing their options.
Starting next year, the district plans to rely on its fund balance to bridge the gap between revenue and expenditures, according to a Cove ISD report. If it continues to do so, though, the report stated the district could be bankrupt by the 2017-2018 school year.
Superintendent Joe Burns is doing what he can to fight for Cove ISD, including lobbying legislatures to change the rules by which funding is allocated.
“You don’t give up $12 million without a fight and I don’t intend to,” said Burns, as he updated board members on his plan during their Monday workshop. “We will be taking prudent measures in the district to reduce operating costs and still continue to offer programs that we consider to be exceptional to kids.”
Impact Aid federal funding is awarded to districts based on the number of students who belong to active-duty military families and students of third-party contractors.
It provides formula grants to about 14,000 school districts burdened by nontaxable federal land and installations to make up for the lost revenues and additional costs associated with the federal presence, Burns said.
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.
On Friday, Burns plans to meet with Robert Edmonson, retired Cove ISD executive director of business services, who has 20 years of experience helping to manage the district’s multimillion-dollar budget.
“We are also working on the back end of this legislatively. It’s hard to get a bill pushed through when you don’t have much of a stomach for it in leadership, whether it’s (the) Republican or Democratic Party,” Burns said. “We will begin crafting language to submit to change the law to decrease the percent of students required for us to be eligible for Impact Aid.”
The Killeen Independent School District currently receives $44 million in Impact Aid funding and expects to receive the same amount for the 2014-2015 school year, said Superintendent Robert Muller.
Since there are five different formulas used to determine if a school is eligible for aid, Burns said schools with far fewer military children than Cove ISD will continue to get federal funding, while his district loses everything.
“Tell me where the fairness is in that,” said Burns, who added he hopes to meet one on one with lawmakers to discuss the eligibility requirements.
“I want to have their undivided attention on Copperas Cove issues,” Burns said. “Our goal is to try to find some way to leverage the law so that either we’re back in Heavy Impact Aid or there is a much more equitable system for doling out those Impact Aid dollars.”