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Military Base Closures and the Impact Aid Program for Education

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Abstract:

Congress authorizes the Department of Defense (DoD) to realign or close military installations to meet the changing military requirements facing the United States and to reduce the costs of maintaining excess military infrastructure. DoD compiles a list of recommended Base Realignment and Closing (BRAC) actions that is then submitted to an independent BRAC Commission to review. The Commission subsequently submits its list of recommended actions to the President. The most recent BRAC Commission submitted its recommendations for base closures and realignment to the President on September 8, 2005. After agreeing with the recommendations, the President sent the Commission report to Congress on September 15, 2005. Congress has 45 days to enact a joint resolution of disapproval; otherwise, the recommendations become law.

The 2005 BRAC recommendations include the closure of 22 major military installations and the realignment of 33 others. The effect of these changes includes both an estimated savings of $35.6 billion for the military over the next 20 years and socioeconomic impacts on the communities affected by the changes. Included in these socioeconomic impacts are the effects on local educational agencies (LEA) serving children affected by the BRAC recommendations.

Under the Impact Aid program, the federal government provides financial assistance to LEAs adversely affected by the activities of the federal government. The program provides various types of payments, including compensation to LEAs for the federal ownership of certain property, funds for school construction, and compensation to LEAs enrolling federally connected children. Federally connected children include, for example, children whose parents are in the Armed Forces, as well as children whose parents are employed on federal property, such as a military installation. Educating federally connected children imposes a service burden, revenue burden, or both on an LEA, as the LEA may not receive the benefit of tax revenues to support their education.

LEAs losing or gaining federally connected students as a result of the BRAC recommendations may experience substantial challenges. These challenges may be created by the significant changes required by the BRAC recommendations but may also stem from the structure of the Impact Aid program. For LEAs experiencing a decline in enrollment, the LEAs may need to release staff or consolidate students into a smaller number of facilities. The structure of the Impact Aid program will provide these LEAs with a relatively brief period of time to make necessary adjustments without a loss of funding. For LEAs gaining federally connected students as a result of the BRAC recommendations, the structure of the Impact Aid program delays these LEAs from receiving immediate Impact Aid payments to adjust to the change in enrollment.

This report will be updated as needed.