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(Washington, D.C.) – Last night, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced legislation that would improve the federal funding process for schools in tribal and military communities. Senator Murray’s legislation, the Impact Aid Timely Repayment Act of 2010, works to expedite the Impact Aid allocation process by requiring the Department of Education to make Impact Aid payments to schools within two years of funds being appropriated. Impact Aid funding is provided to school districts that educate a significant number of federally-connected children, such as those that live on military bases or reservations. Currently, schools districts are still waiting for Impact Aid that was appropriated as long as five years ago, forcing schools to tighten budgets and increasing the burden on local taxpayers.

“As state budgets tighten and schools struggle to keep teachers in the classroom, making sure federal support finds its way into the hands of local school districts in a timely manner is critical,” said Senator Murray. “This legislation would speed up the allocation process so that school districts across Washington state and the country aren’t left guessing about their budgets, allowing them to hire more teachers, buy more books and supplies, and make the educational experience better for their students.”

“Senator Murray’s legislation will go a long way toward relieving financial uncertainty for school districts with a high number of military dependents,” said Oak Harbor Superintendent Rick Schulte. “About 54 percent of Oak Harbor students have at least one parent who is active-duty military.”

“It will take the guesswork out of predicting whether we will or will not get a needed payment three, four, five or even six years after Congress allocated the money,” Schulte said.  “If we know the money is going to be there, it can make the difference whether we lay off teachers or not – and that directly impacts the students.”