Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, announced that the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which passed out of committee yesterday, includes funding for Impact Aid and extends the Impact Aid Improvement Act of 2012 for an additional three years. Senator Gillibrand secured $25 million for Impact Aid nationwide and an additional $5 million for severely disabled military kids. The Highland Falls school district relies on the program that provided more than $1.9 million last year and up to $2.5 million in previous years, to make up for the loss of property tax funds due to the unusually large percentage of land within the district that is owned by the federal government.
“Families near West Point rely on this funding to keep their schools strong, giving our children the education and services they need,” Senator Gillibrand said. “This is an important investment in our community that will help our students grow and learn.”
Highland Falls School District is in a unique position with approximately 93 percent of the land within the district exempt from property taxation due to wholly exempt Federal and State owned land. The acquisition of land by the United States Military Academy at West Point accounts for approximately 72 percent of this exempt property, while New York State parklands and other property account for the remaining 21 percent. Because of this situation, the school district has already been forced to make tough decisions in past school years, including closing its elementary school, letting go of staff, ending vital extracurricular programs and raising property taxes.
Impact Aid is a federal program that provides funding to school districts across the United States that include within their boundaries parcels of land that are owned by the federal government or that have been removed from the local tax rolls by the federal government. The Impact Aid program provides much-needed funding to school districts affected by non-taxable land within their districts. Congress has provided critical funding to 1,400 school districts across the country through this program.