Mascoutah schools will again be able to receive about $4 million in federal aid annually after being ineligible for the last two years, according to a news release.
The federal aid compensates school districts like Mascoutah District 19 that can’t collect property taxes from nearby military bases but still have to educate children who live on the base.
District 19 encompasses Scott Air Force Base. But the U.S. Department of Education said the district didn’t meet the requirements for federal funding in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years.
School districts’ tax rates have to meet a certain threshold to be eligible, and even though district officials levied at the maximum rates allowed, Mascoutah couldn’t meet that requirement. Last year, the district hired a lobbyist to help it change state legislation to make it easier for Mascoutah to do so.
The bill eventually passed, allowing more flexibility in school districts’ tax levies if they are eligible to receive the federal aid.
However, according to the news release, corrected tax data from the Illinois State Board of Education showed Mascoutah had actually met the tax rate criteria last year.
District 19 Superintendent Craig Fiegel said U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, has shown personal attention to the district’s struggle to secure the federal aid.
“This has been a time-intensive process to solve a complex funding problem. We appreciate his tenacity and responsiveness to our needs,” Fiegel stated in the release. “We’re been really impressed with the help and all the efforts Rep. Bost and his staff provided on our behalf.”
Bost sponsored legislation enacted last year, which he said helped to provide additional federal funding in Mascoutah.
“I intend to work with my colleagues to ensure that the criteria used to determine eligibility fully reflects local tax efforts to support public education, so similar problems do not result at Mascoutah or another military community,” Bost stated.