Burr Ridge district plans for year without federal aid
Updated: November 12, 2012 6:08AM
BURR RIDGE — For the second year in a row, Burr Ridge Elementary School District 180 is planning for no federal impact aid.
“It is not a forward-funded program,” Superintendent Tom Schneider said of the federal program that provides money to school districts with federally owned land within their taxing boundaries.
More than a third of the property within District 180 is occupied by Argonne National Laboratory.
Schneider, a member of the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools Board of Directors, traveled to the nation’s capital last month to make the district’s needs known to members of Congress.
District 180 is one of 254 school districts across the country that qualify for a share of about $67 million each year.
Over the years, the district’s share of impact fees have varied from nothing to more than $1 million. The average take is between $350,000 and $500,000.
That’s real money to a district in which 67 percent of students come from low-income households.
“It could have a giant impact on our district and on our budget,” which shows a $563,000 deficit, Schneider said.
Schneider can’t help but think about the money that would be coming to the district if a large corporation owned the Argonne property.
“If Argonne labs was owned by GE, we would see a considerable increase,” Schneider said.
According to Steve McGregor, Argonne’s manager of media relations, the federal government bought the land now known as Argonne in the 1940s, more than 30 years after District 180 was established. The land at that time consisted of 148 parcels ranging from less than an acre to more than 200 acres.
“Much of that was farmland,” McGregor said.
Rep. Judy Biggert, R-13th of Hinsdale, not only supports the continuation of impact fees, she is cosponsor of H.R. 1342, which would ensure that impact aid payments are processed quickly and accurately.
“Federal installations like Argonne or military bases bring new jobs and businesses into the community, but they aren’t subject to property taxes. Impact Aid is critical for our schools because it ensures that local property owners aren’t forced to make up the difference or send their kids to sub-par schools,” said Biggert. ~.