(Washington D.C.) – Today an amendment sponsored by U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to help schools in military communities was passed as part of the Department of Defense Authorization bill. This amendment provides crucial assistance to those schools that are facing new burdens as a result of personnel reassignment and military action overseas.

“School districts across my home state of Washington are dealing with new challenges as they see dramatic changes in enrollment due to deployments, force structure realignments, and the ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Murray said. “I am proud that the Senate has decided to support these communities and make sure that military children are not penalized as their parents serve our country.”

Murray’s amendment accomplishes two goals:

  • Protects critical Impact Aid for schools that face sudden drops in enrollment

  • Provides additional help for Impact Aid schools with increases in enrollment

Murray introduced her amendment in July after visiting heavily-impacted school districts throughout Washington state.

“All across our state, the one thing I hear over and over again from Washington residents is this – tell our troops that we support them and their families,” Murray remarked while visiting a middle school in Lakewood on June 1st. “The burden our military children face is one that we, as adults and leaders, must try to alleviate.”

Military bases in Washington state have been particularly affected by deployments overseas and the ongoing Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process. As these bases gain and lose personnel, their local schools – and the children of military personnel – are being impacted.

School districts such as Clover Park are facing steep declines in enrollment due to long deployments and the privatization of military housing. As a result of these sudden changes, Clover Park would have lost over $1 million in Impact Aid funding – forcing it to close schools and push the remaining students into overcrowded classrooms. Murray’s amendment protects districts like Clover Park from losing federal Impact Aid funding, allowing a transition period to ensure that they can continue to provide students with the high quality education they deserve.

Senator Murray also sought to help Bethel School District, which is facing similar increases, but she was unable to get support in the Senate to extend the assistance to schools that do not currently receive federal Impact Aid.