Impact Aid payment speeds up for Oak Harbor schools

Oak Harbor School District is set to receive a higher percentage of planned federal Impact Aid dollars.

The United States Department of Education will provide a higher percentage of Impact Aid payments due to the school district. The school district will receive at least 70 percent of the amount due rather than the 45 percent previously announced.

“It’s good news because we were told were going to get half that amount,” superintendent Rick Schulte said after Monday’s Oak Harbor School Board meeting.

Impact Aid is a federal pot of money for school districts that have significant populations of students from military families or from Indian reservations. Those students often live on federal lands, which don’t pay local property taxes and place a financial burden on local school districts.

The Oak Harbor School District budgeted to receive $4,091,000 in Impact Aid funds for the 2012-2013 school year and it has already received $2,326,000. The school district is getting less money budgeted because the government hasn’t passed an appropriations bill and the amount of Impact Aid money available was dictated by a continuing resolution, Schulte said.

Schulte mentioned that U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray were helpful in getting the percentage of Impact Aid payments increased.

“Impact Aid is a lifeline to school district that keeps teachers in our classrooms,” Larsen said in a press release. “Too often schools are left hanging, not knowing when or if they will get the funding they need to keep operating. This announcement goes a long way in providing schools the certainty they need to operate this year.”

The Oak Harbor School District had set aside approximately $1 million should Impact Aid funding drop. There are still several questions left to be answered. Schulte noted that he’s waiting to see if sequestration takes place at the beginning of the year, which is federal cuts and tax increases that could mean an 8.2 percent cut in Impact Aid for the school district.

He noted that the money the school district receives from Impact Aid has declined in recent years. The Oak Harbor School District is budgeting for more than $4 million during the current school year, but Schulte said the school district received $5.5 million five years ago.

The neighboring Coupeville School District also receives Impact Aid dollars, but a lesser amount. In 2012, the Central Whidbey-based school district is scheduled to receive $41,300.


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