Thune, Smith Introduce Bill to Ease Application Process for the Impact Aid Program During COVID-19 Pandemic

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) today introduced the Impact Aid Coronavirus Relief Act, legislation that would allow school districts participating in the Impact Aid Program to use their student headcount from the 2020-2021 school year, which have already been calculated, on their Impact Aid applications for the 2021-2022 school year. School districts will begin to complete their Impact Aid applications for the 2021-2022 school year this fall, and this bill would ensure that schools do not need to recalculate federally connected students during the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Impact Aid is a program that reimburses school districts located on federal property or for their students that live on federal land and, therefore, collect less in local property taxes to fund their schools.

“There are several school districts throughout the state of South Dakota that rely on the Impact Aid Program to help support their schools and students,” said Thune. “By allowing these school districts to use prior-year student headcounts on their Impact Aid applications this fall, we can ensure that school districts across the state will have the funding they need during these uncertain times and will continue benefiting from this important program.”

“As we continue to respond to the coronavirus pandemic we need to make sure that schools in Minnesota have strong investments so students can keep learning,” said Smith. “We have a special obligation to federally impacted schools, which are located in school districts with a significant amount of nontaxable land and because of that receive direct federal payments. I’m glad to work with Sen. Thune to help ensure that next fall’s Impact Aid applications and student counts are not disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.”

“As federally impacted school districts develop our plans for the next school year, we appreciate Senators Thune and Smith for addressing our concerns about conducting accurate Impact Aid student counts,” said Chad Blotsky, president of the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools and Finance Director of the Todd County School District. “This legislation is a commonsense way to enable all 1200-plus federally impacted school districts – including Indian lands, military and federal property school districts – to submit timely applications while keeping our staff and communities safe. In my state of South Dakota, there are 37 Impact Aid school districts, representing all aspects of the program. The National Association of Federally Impacted Schools supports this legislation and thanks Senators Thune and Smith or their leadership.”

“The ‘Impact Aid Coronavirus Relief Act’ will provide critical funding stability to 28 Minnesota school districts and over 1,200 districts nationally that depend on Impact Aid funding for day to day operation,” said Brent Gish, Executive Director, National Indian Impacted Schools Association