School districts near Scott to receive less federal funding

News-DemocratMay 6, 2013 

School districts located close to Scott Air Force Base will receive less federal funding as a result of the automatic spending cuts mandated by Congress.

Mascoutah School District 19 receives the area's largest portion of what's referred to as impact aid from the federal government. Impact aid is provided to school districts near military bases and tribal lands to make up for the lack of land subject to property taxes.

Mascoutah Superintendent Craig Fiegel said the district receives about $9 million in impact aid. The district anticipates a 5 percent lose as a result of the sequester, which would mean about $500,000 less in funding next fiscal year.

"We are in a pretty good position in Mascoutah," he said. "We do have cash balances that allow us to handle this a little better than some districts."

However, Fiegel said the district will continue to look at its budget "very carefully" and examine how the district can make adjustments.

The district's Assistant Superintendent of Business Terry Gibbons explained Mascoutah School District receives two impact aid payments every fiscal year.

For the current fiscal year, he said the district has received $4.6 million and is anticipating another payment before June 30, the end of the fiscal year.

The district is beginning to formulate it's budget for next fiscal year, and Gibbons said the district is looking to budget between $8 and $8.5 million in impact aid.

Compound the lose of federal dollars with the reduction in state aid, Mascoutah School District will have less revenue to work with next fiscal year, according to Gibbons.

"State and federal dollars are some of our biggest revenues," he said, noting the cuts don't allow the district to maintain it's current fund balances and will force the district to use its cash reserves.

In all, schools near military bases and tribal lands will face a $60 million shortfall between now and September, according to the Education Department's plan to carry out the automatic spending cuts mandated by Congress. Areas where large portions of land are owned or managed by the government, such as military or tribal areas, receive more than $1 billion in federal aid annually to make up for the lack of land subject to property tax.

In addition to Mascoutah, several O'Fallon school districts also receive impact aid but to a lesser degree.

Jeremy Davis, chief school business official for O'Fallon School District 203, said the district is anticipating some reductions in its impact aid as a result of the sequester. "We don't really know at this point how it will effect our payments," he said.

To date, District 203 has received $442,000 in impact aid with another payment expected before the end of the fiscal year -- June 30. Last year, Davis said the district got more than $800,000 in impact aid. "It can vary pretty greatly from year to year," he said.

O'Fallon School District 90 receives about $350,000 in impact aid every year, according to Superintendent Todd Koehl. He said the district is expecting to receive $70,000 less or a 20 percent reduction in impact aid next fiscal year based on information provided by the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools.

Jane Hamm with Central School District 104 in O'Fallon said the district receives about $22,000 in impact aid annually and a 5 percent reduction would mean $1,100 less in funding.

"It's going to have a minimal impact on Central School District," she said.

School district Amount of Aid Expected cut

Mascoutah School District 19 $9 million $500,000

O'Fallon School District 203 $800,000 $40,000

O'Fallon School District 90 $350,000 $70,000

Central School District 104 $22,000 $1,100

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact reporter Jamie Forsythe at 618-239-2562 or jforsythe1@bnd.com.

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