Arsenal Garrison Commander visits Williams school to support Impact Aid

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Colonel Bill Marks, Garrison Commander for Redstone Arsenal, will visit with students at J.E. Williams Elementary School Wednesday afternoon to encourage a Tennessee Valley-wide effort to raise millions of dollars in federal Impact Aid for local school districts.

Federal Impact Aid is an education grant program that provides funds to school systems that are financially burdened or impacted by a federal government presence. Since 2005, the immediate school districts outside of Redstone Arsenal (Huntsville, Madison City and Madison County) have received $5.9 Million in Federal Impact Aid monies.

"There is a lot of federal money available for local education that we have only begun to accept," said Marks. "Every single parent in all of our school districts should fill out and return the Impact Aid form and let the Department of Education decide how much each district qualifies for."

Redstone Arsenal is not the only location that makes children eligible.  There are numerous locations in the Tennessee Valley, to include: Bellefonte Nuclear Plant, Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant, Widow Creek Fossil Plant, Anniston Army Depot, VA Medical Center, Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, Guntersville Dam & Reservoir, most of the TVA Sub Stations, all federal buildings and courthouses as well as the FAA Air Traffic Control Tower at Huntsville International airport.

"Because a lot of our federal lands and buildings are not taxed at a local level, our school districts miss out on this revenue stream," said Marks. "Federal Impact Aid is intended to offset this loss and we should strive to raise as much as possible for our children's education."

There are no restrictions on how school districts may use the money. Some local schools have hired new teachers, others have completed construction projects.

"If invited, I will visit every single school district in this area to encourage parents, students, teachers and administrators to participate in this effort," said Marks. "We are still leaving millions of dollars on the table that could be used for our kid's education and in this economic environment, we need every single dollar."