News: Federal Impact Aid closes gaps in local education budget
Story by Cpl. Brian Adam Jones
CHERRY POINT, N.C. - The Federal Impact Aid program, a Department of Education initiative designed to close the funding gap for communities with large populations on federal land, provides vital financial assistance to public schools that may otherwise be underfunded. This includes the Cherry Point community in eastern North Carolina where every day, thousands of military-connected children attend public schools in Craven, Carteret, and Pamlico counties.
The government determines how much each school district receives based on submission of survey cards schools send to parents, asking them to identify whether they are affiliated with the military.
With the deadline to submit for next year’s funds fast approaching, leaders from school boards and Cherry Point are calling on parents to help them receive every possible cent the schools deserve.
Home addresses on federal property, parents on active-duty and civilians employed on federal property all count toward the federal funding.
“This money is super vital,” said Lisa Boyette, the military liaison counselor for the Craven County School System. “The schools can use the money as they see fit. In the past, I know it has been used to save teaching positions, purchase textbooks, or buy curriculum materials.”
Last year, Craven County schools, which have more than 4,000 military-connected children, received $1.8 million from the program.
“It really is going to mean having supplies in the classroom,” said Donna Bagley, Cherry Point’s school liaison, who works to ensure there is a healthy relationship between the air station and the local school districts.
Bagley explained that schools near military bases are often underfunded because large parts of their communities live on federal land and don’t pay property taxes or contribute as much to the local economy.
“It’s kind of a way for the federal government to pay its taxes to the local areas,” Bagley said.
Craven County plans to send the survey cards home with students Oct. 16. Carteret and Craven counties sent their cards out Monday. Bagley said it is absolutely imperative that parents return the completed cards as soon as possible.
“Lots of times people don’t even fill them out because they don’t think they’re all that important, when really, it’s coming down to their child getting certain things in the classroom,” Bagley said.
“It’s absolutely critical that they get all of the cards back because it literally is money.”