EXTRA COSTS OF EDUCATING MILITARY CHILDREN
Military enrollments may disproportionately alter LEA costs because of unique characteristics of the military population. Military children may not be just additional students that require an “average” increase in expenditures per pupil. Rather, military students may require substantially more or less expenditures than the typical student. A fully funded Impact Aid law would defray the local share of costs for “average” students, but the program would leave a shortfall or surplus if military students cost substantially more or less than average.
Impact Aid funding has been predicated on the reduction of tax base in areas with substantial numbers of federally connected students, but extra costs of military students could provide an additional rationale for LEA funding. For example, frequent relocation of military members is endemic to the military mission. If the transient nature of students imposes substantial costs on LEAs, then it may be more appropriate to spread these extra costs across a broader taxpayer base that benefits from the military mission. Without outside funding, these extra costs might create financial pressures on LEAs to curtail their general instructional program.
This chapter reviews several factors that LEAs consider unusual about military enrollments (Helmick and Hudson, 1997): the mobility or transience of students, enrollment variability, preponderance of low-income students eligible for free/reduced-price school lunch, and special education students. The chapter also considers whether military students might be “above-average” students who have fewer academic problems than the typical student.