Legislation Could Help Schools Make Changes to Protect the Health and Safety of Students, Teachers, Faculty During COVID-19

WASHINGTON, D.C. [8/12/2020]—U.S. Senators Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) joined Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), along with other colleagues in introducing a bill to help K-12 schools make infrastructure improvements. The Impact Aid Infrastructure Act (IAIA) would provide $1 billion in supplemental funding through the Impact Aid program.

IAIA provides competitive and formula grants for school infrastructure projects, including school construction and facilities upgrades, in school districts with high percentages of children with military parents or children living on Tribal lands. With these grants, school districts would have the flexibility to focus on their specific renovation and repair needs, which could include changes to help protect the health, safety, and well-being of students, teachers, school leaders, and school personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As schools in Minnesota and across the country prepare for a new school year, they are facing unprecedented challenges in preparing a safe school environment for students, teachers and support staff,” said Sen. Smith. “Even prior to the pandemic, many Impact Aid schools already had significant infrastructure needs. These grants would allow them to address infrastructure needs that are critically important to helping students learn and helping teachers teach.”

 “As we continue to confront this pandemic, it’s important to ensure that school districts can provide a quality education to their students - even those schools without the ability to fund their operations through property taxes," said Sen. Klobuchar. “This legislation will help ensure that even during these challenging times, local school districts in Minnesota on federal land can retain the teachers, technology, and transportation they need to help students succeed.”

In June, Sen. Smith introduced bipartisan legislation with Sen. John Thune of South Dakota to allow schools districts participating in the Impact Aid Program to use their student headcount from the 2020-2021 school year on their Impact Aid applications. This bill would ensure that schools do not need to recalculate federally connected students during the uncertainty created by the pandemic.

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