News Releases

Murray Announces Plan at Woodbrook Middle School in Lakewood

The Problem

As Washington's military bases gain and lose personnel due to deployments and the Pentagon's new realignment plan, schools near military bases and the children of military personnel are being impacted.

Impact on Schools: Some school districts [including Bethel and Central Kitsap] will have to cope with a dramatic and rapid increase in enrollment. They will need to hire new teachers and find new classroom space quickly – under tight budgets and without any additional federal support. Other school districts [such as Clover Park] will lose hundreds of students and be forced to close schools, greatly disrupting local communities.

Impact on Students: Studies show that children of military personnel often struggle academically while their parents are deployed overseas. These students need additional counseling and support, but many schools are not equipped to provide that support.

Senator Murray's Proposal

Senator Murray has met with local superintendents, teachers, counselors, parents and students, and developed a plan to –

  • minimize the impact of these military changes on local schools and students,

  • and ensure that children of military personnel get the monitoring, support and counseling they need so they don't fall behind.

Senator Murray will introduce her proposal as an amendment to the Department of Defense appropriations bill (FY 2006), which the Senate is expected to take up shortly.

Importantly, Senator Murray's funding is separate from – and in addition to -- federal Impact Aid assistance. Murray's also funding helps schools that may not qualify for Impact Aid but are still affected by military base changes.

SUMMARY: Senator Murray's Proposal

1. Helps schools facing a DROP in enrollment.

The Murray amendment will provide a cushion for Impact Aid school districts like Clover Park, which is experiencing a drop in enrollment, and therefore a drop in Impact Aid funding, due to extended deployments and military housing privatization at McChord AFB.

2. Helps schools facing an INCREASE in enrollment (whether or not they get Impact Aid).

The Murray amendment will provide funding for school districts like Bethel, which does not receive Impact Aid funding, but is experiencing a significant, unexpected increase in enrollment due to the 4th Stryker Brigades move to Fort Lewis.

The Murray amendment will provide additional funding for highly-impacted school districts such as those on the Kitsap Peninsula. Those schools will see an even greater influx of students due to the ongoing Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process. For example, the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard is expected to gain 1,400 new jobs.

3. Helps schools meet the emotional, academic and counseling needs of military children.

The Murray amendment will provide funding for school districts all over the State that do not receive Impact Aid funding but are in need of counseling services and teacher education to better assist the students in coping with National Guard and Reserve deployments.

FURTHER DETAILS: Senator Murray's Proposal

Proposal: The Murray Amendment authorizes such sums as may be necessary to the Secretary of Defense to make education assistance available to school districts serving large numbers of military children affected by the war or other military personnel decisions. Funds are for additional tutoring, counseling, and teacher training in how to identify and respond to emotional needs common in children who have a parent in a wartime deployment. Funds are separate from and in addition to basic DoD Impact Aid appropriations.

Distribution: Appropriated funds will be allocated on a pro rata basis to school districts that: (1) serve a large number of military children, and (2) are designated by the Secretary of Defense as impacted by the war or DoD military personnel decisions. Funds in excess of $20 million will used to hold harmless under the Impact Aid program districts facing a sudden and dramatic decline in military child population. Up to 10 percent of total funding may be set aside by the Secretary for districts that confront an emergency influx of military families.

Rationale/Evidence: School districts serving large numbers of military children confront substantial additional education costs associated with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. During past military actions, public school districts confronted increased counseling, discipline, and tutorial costs associated with military children who fell behind academically while their parents engaged in armed conflict. (Source: Military Impacted Schools Association, June 2003) According to Dr. Dennis Embry of the Paxis Institute, on a widespread basis during the first Iraq war, military children fell behind academically, withdrew emotionally, disassociated from others, and became aggressive and disruptive in school. (Source: Senate Veteran's Affairs Committee hearing, July 16, 1991) According to Fox News, the same phenomenon is occurring during Operation Iraqi Freedom. (Source: Fox News, War Takes Toll on Military Kids, May 14, 2004)