Durbin, Kirk Extend Impact Aid Funding Formula For Schools Serving The Great Lakes Naval Base

WASHINGTON, DC–(ENEWSPF)–October 21, 2011.  U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) today announced that the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has approved a bill that will extend the practice of allowing the five public schools serving the Great Lakes Naval Training Base to pool their students to maximize federal education assistance through the Impact Aid program.  The legislation also allows North Chicago to remain eligible for heavily impacted status for the next five years. 

“We need to make sure that school districts have the funds they need to provide each student with a quality public education,” said Durbin a member of the Senate Impact Aid Coalition.  “Many local school districts across the U.S. cover areas that include federally owned land exempt from local taxes which fund public schools.  Impact Aid fills this gap in funding to make sure that no student is left behind.” 

“We owe everything to the men and women who wear the uniform in defense of our nation,” Senator Kirk said.  “Military families make incredible sacrifices, which is why Senator Durbin and I worked together to protect this essential funding.”

The five public schools serving the Great Lakes Naval Base – North Shore District 112, Township High School District 113, Glenbrook High School District 225, Glenview School District 34 and North Chicago District 187 – are facing a situation unique in the country.  The Navy is redistributing housing for sailors and officers though a public-private venture, which will place Navy housing as far as 20 miles from the Base.  The redistribution will move a projected 200 students from one heavily impacted district in North Chicago to four other school districts in surrounding communities.

Without this extension, all affected school districts will be hurt.  North Chicago will lose its heavily impacted status and the significantly higher per-student subsidy that it brings.  Surrounding school districts will serve additional students they are not currently equipped to serve and whose families are not generating property taxes to support the public schools.

Many local school districts across the U.S. serve students affiliated with military families and include federally owned land exempt from local taxes which fund public schools. These school districts face special challenges — they must provide a quality education to the children in the area and meet the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act, while often operating with less local revenue than is available to other school districts. Impact Aid supplements the cost of educating those students whose families are part of the U.S. military. 

Today’s announcement will help bring the federal government closer to meeting an obligation it has failed for years – its obligation to the children of members of our armed services.  The federal government has never fully reimbursed schools for the cost of educating military-affiliated children, and the children and school districts who educate them suffer.  This includes the over 1,500 children of Great Lakes personnel who attend public schools in the area.