A significant chunk of federal Impact Aid money is coming to help four Montana schools, including improvements to the facilities in Box Elder and on Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation.
The Montana projects total nearly $7 million, Montana’s senators, Max Baucus and Jon Tester have announced.
Voyd St. Pierre, superintendent of Rocky Boy schools and president of Indian Impact Schools of Montana, said in a press release issued by Baucus and Tester, both Montana Democrats, that the funding will help his district.
“This funding will accommodate the growth and continual updating of our aging elementary school building,” St. Pierre said. “Rocky Boy Public Schools is extremely grateful for the ongoing support from Senator Baucus, who remains a very strong advocate of Impact Aid.”
The senator’s release said that the Impact Aid program is the oldest federal education program, created in 1950 to provide a payment in lieu of taxes to local school districts for lost tax revenue that is a result of tax-exempt federal property.
The program is tied to the number of children residing on or near federal property. Nationally, the program provides funding to more than 1,300 school districts, for a range of programs including programs to retain highly qualified teachers, adequate technology, and facilities renovation.
Montana receives more than $40 million in Impact Aid funding annually, distributed to more than 70 school districts.
The senators announced that Box Elder Elementary School will receive $725,773 to repair a leaky roof that has caused damage to the building including mold in the carpets. The mold causes students and staff to experience a marked increase in absences due to respiratory illness, the release said.
The Rocky Boy Elementary School will receive $66,120 to repair and upgrade the boiler and air handling system at the school to provide for the increase in the student population over the last 30 years.
Browning High School and Lame Deer Elementary School are the other grantees named in the release.
“Students and teachers need healthy, safe and up-to-code schools so they can thrive,” Baucus said. “These resources are a smart investment in our rural communities and I’ll keep fighting to make sure these worthwhile projects get a fair shake.”
"Investing in education is investing in Montana’s future,” Tester said. “Making sure that the buildings our kids learn in are safe and healthy will help our next generation receive the high-quality education they deserve.”