District Administration March 2018 - 76

ProfessionalOpinion
Federal Impact Aid
strengthens the military mission
A popular program to assist children of service personnel may be endangered
By Jerrod Wheeler

N

estled in America's Heartland
is a public school where two
of our nation's most defining
mottos, "The Land of the Free and the
Home of the Brave" and "The Land
of Opportunity" intersect daily for
military-connected students.
At Knob Noster Public Schools in
Missouri, we keep these thoughts in
mind every day as we educate the 1,500
children-1,000 of whose parents serve
at Whiteman Air Force Base.
Every professional on our campus
takes seriously our role in educating children of our armed forces and
strives to meet both the academic and
social-emotional needs of our militaryconnected students.
Endangered program
Public school leaders work hard to support military-connected children and
their families, striving to mitigate the
challenges they face due to deployments
and mobility. We make every effort
to ensure credits transfer across state
boundaries and that students graduate
regardless of how many schools they
have attended. We also work with parents, school liaison officers, and garrison
commanders to ensure our military students receive a quality education.
But some in our nation's capital
would like to rob critical funding-Impact Aid-from public schools to pay
for private school voucher schemes.
Many public school districts across

DAmag.me/aid
76 March 2018

To better support
military-connected
students, Congress
should invest more
-not less-into the
Impact Aid program.
the country-including Knob Noster-
have federally owned land within their
boundaries. Federal property is taxexempt, which deprives public school
districts of revenue, so a federal program
called Impact Aid was established as a
tax replacement to help cover the costs
of educating children.
Impact Aid provides financial assistance to more than 1,200 school
districts with concentrations of children
residing on military installations, Native
American lands, low-rent housing facilities or other federal properties.
Lifeline to performance
Some of the Knob Noster programming
made possible by Impact Aid include:
* Panthers R.O.C.K (Recognizing
Our Character Kids). Over 400 students are recognized annually for demonstrating quality character, citizenship
and patriotism.
* Aim High Panthers. An AP program offering courses in STEM. Knob
Noster students increased AP qualifying
scores 600 percent from 2015 to 2017.
* Student 2 Student Mentoring.
Each year, Knob Noster students welcome more than 250 military-transitioning students and help them quickly

integrate into their new school setting.
* Stealth Panther Robotics. The
team qualified for state and world
championships in FIRST Robotics,
earning rookie team-of-the-year honors.
* Academic excellence. In 2016 and
2017, Knob Noster students helped the
district earn its highest-ever score on the
Missouri state annual performance report. Ours was the highest-performing
district in central Missouri.
Impact Aid is the lifeline to performance at Knob Noster-not just
because it provides opportunities, but
also because it is a strategically planned
program that works.
Easing the tax burden
In Knob Noster, 2 out of 3 students are
military-connected with many military
families maintaining residence in other
states. This makes it almost impossible
for the district to raise money needed
for school construction.
Thankfully, our Impact Aid appropriation helps ease this tax burden.
Since 1950, Impact Aid has worked
well to meet our nation's needs, despite
being underfunded. Impact Aid is flexible, locally controlled and has bipartisan support on Capitol Hill. Proposals
to divert that aid from schools that
educate military-connected students are
short-sighted, and will only reduce opportunities for quality education.
If Congress wants to better support
military-connected students, it should
invest more-not less-in the Impact
Aid program. DA
Jerrod Wheeler is superintendent of Knob
Noster Public Schools in Missouri.
District Administration


http://www.DAmag.me/aid

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration March 2018

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