Washington, D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith sent a letter to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Acting Administrator Daniel Elwell urging the agency to implement guidance in response to Section 1044 of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Smith secured this provision in the legislation to allow Highline School District to qualify for over $14 million in Airport Improvement Grant (AIP) funds that the school district was promised in 2002.

“Highline School District needs the FAA to implement guidance my amendment calls for so that the district can apply for the funding that it was promised in 2002 and that Congress clarified the FAA should provide. My hope is that the FAA acts quickly and that both Highline High School and Des Moines Elementary can finally apply for funding to finish critical construction projects that will allow the school district’s students to have quiet learning environments free from distraction and noise annoyances.” 

Sea-Tac Airport is located in the center of Highline School District and many of the district’s schools are impacted by airport noise. A 2002 Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Port of Seattle, the FAA, and Highline School District outlined noise mitigation for a number of Highline School District schools. Since the MOA was signed, the Port and the Highline School District met their portion of the funding obligation. During that time, the noise contours around the airport changed, leaving the two schools in areas where they did not qualify for the previously agreed upon funding.

The bipartisan and bicameral amendment that clarified the FAA’s ability to provide the funding promised in the 2002 MOA was incorporated into the FY 2019 NDAA and was signed into law.

The full text of the letter can be found below.  

December 20, 2018


The Honorable Daniel K. Elwell

Acting Administrator

Federal Aviation Administration

U.S. Department of Transportation

800 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20591


Dear Acting Administrator Elwell:

As you work to implement the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, I urge you to swiftly provide guidance related to implementation of Section 1044 of that Act, which clarifies the reimbursable allowed costs of FAA Memoranda of Agreement.

Section 1044 is a provision that affects seven public schools in the congressional district I represent. In 2002, the Highline School District entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Port of Seattle. This agreement was for noise mitigation at several schools in the Highline School District, which are located near the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac). Of the fifteen schools identified in the original agreement, eight have already been funded.

Due to changing noise contours and delayed construction by the school district, the FAA raised questions about the continued eligibility of the remaining seven schools, putting at risk critical federal and Port funding at a time when the Highline School District had passed a bond levy and began construction at two of the schools.

Section 1044 was negotiated on a bipartisan, bicameral basis to help resolve this issue and provide Highline School District with the critical funding eligibility needed to foster a safe and healthy learning environment for the students of those schools. In order for the Port of Seattle and Highline High School District to apply for the remaining AIP funding needed to begin construction at these two schools, guidance by the FAA must be issued.

I encourage the agency to act quickly on the direction from Congress and provide guidance pursuant to the implementation of Section 1044 of the FY 2019 NDAA, so that the Port of Seattle and Highline School District may apply for the funding that was agreed to in the 2002 MOA.

Thank you very much for your consideration on this matter.


Adam Smith 

Member of Congress