Military Impacted Schools Association (MISA) is a national organization of school superintendents. Our mission is to serve school districts with a high concentration of military children. MISA is part of the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools.
Formed in 1986 in Omaha, Nebraska, MISA works on funding, legislation, partnerships and programs for military families on the move. MISA conducts workshops for educators and provides resources on connectedness, building resilience, military life, transition, and deployment.
Education is an important quality of life program for military families. MISA partners with the Department of Defense, National Military Family Association, and military leaders to ensure that all military children are afforded a quality education. MISA works with local school districts and commanders to highlight best practices and partnerships that can further meet the needs of military families.
Specific areas that MISA works on include:
• Impact Aid began in 1950. It is basically the federal government paying its “property taxes” to local school districts as a result of the presence of a military installation. Funds that are received by local school districts go into the general fund to pay for operating expense —textbooks, teachers, computers, utilities, etc.—just as the local property taxpayers funds go into the school district general fund. Over half a million children of military personnel are served through this program. Impact Aid, funded through the Department of Education, is currently funded at only 60% of need, as defined by law. It is the only education program not forward funded. Therefore, delays in funding decisions affect the current school year.
• DoD Impact Aid Funding for Military Children began in FY'91.The funding was established to help school districts with significant concentrations of military students that have faced: lack of adequate funding for over a decade, challenges associated with base closures and realignments, deteriorating facilities, and safety issues since 9/11. School districts with 20% or more military students are eligible for this funding.
MISA works with the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools (NAFIS), Congress, and members of the House and Senate Impact Aid Coalitions. At this time there are approximately 43 senators and 108 congressmen that are members of the Coalition.
MISA is currently working on legislation to reauthorize Impact Aid in 2012
Privatization of Military Housing
The reauthorization bill contained a provision to ensure no unintended consequences regarding Impact Aid funding for local schools as long as the land where the privatized housing is located remains federal or leased by the federal government.
Another unintended consequence as a result of privatization of military housing that MISA has been working on relates to income-driven programs. The intent of privatized housing is to provide quality housing for military families with no out-of-pocket expenses. However, due to an accounting procedure on the military members BAH, many military children living in base housing would no longer qualify for free or reduced- price meals. This could result in a $70 per month per child additional out-of-pocket expense for military families. In addition, school districts would loose Title I and state aid funding.
MISA worked with Congress to solve the issue in the following areas. There is now an income disregard for military families living in privatized military housing so that they will continue to be eligible for these programs:
· Free and reduced meals
· Supplement Security Income—the administrator of the Social Security Administration has ruled to exclude privatized housing payments in SSI eligibility.
· Head Start—legislation is in place to exclude payments in Head Start eligibility. · Title I—Free or reduced-price meal legislation will keep Title I formula in place.
MISA worked on these issues over the past few years and we have been able to correct many of the unintended consequences put in place.
BRAC, Global Re-basing, and Army Mobilization
MISA works on funding, information, and transition issues to address the 45,000 military children that will be moving from overseas schools to the U.S. through Global Re- basing, as well as the impact on school districts as a result of BRAC and the Army mobilization.
Council of State Governments’ Interstate Compact
MISA is a member of the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children. The Council of State Governments was hired by DoD to work with agencies and states to “remove barriers to educational success imposed on children of military families because of frequent moves and deployment of their parents.”
Major areas of focus include:
• Educational records and enrollment
• Placement and attendance
STATUS: The Interstate Compact was approved in January 2008. To date forty-three (43) states have approved the legislation. MISA is working with CSG, school districts, and elected leaders to approve legislation in all states. Many of the “solutions” to concerns are “best practices” of school districts.
Student Online Achievement Resources (SOAR)
The University of Northern Iowa, Princeton Review, US Skills, and COREK12 have united to provide content for the SOAR website. SOAR is an online program to ease the transition of military families and provide resources for students, parents and teachers in math, reading, and language arts. The program provides state standards for all 50 states and DoD schools. MISA encourages participation and promotes the use of SOAR by military families and communities.
MISA works to develop many partnerships with a common cause--doing what’s best for our military children and families. Some of our many partners include the Department of Defense, DoD Education Activities, National Military Family Association, National PTA, military associations, etc.
MISA works with local school districts to:
· include a military representative on the school board
· open lines of two-way communication between school district and base -- including the commander, school liaison officer, public affairs officer, family advocacy officer, etc.
· provide information regarding Impact Aid Reauthorization.