U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that the federal funding deal provides $1.3 billion, a $23 million increase from last year, for the Impact Aid Program. The Impact Aid program is a federal program designed to supplement schools in districts that are on a large portion of federally-owned, nontaxable land. Several districts in New York, including the Highland Falls – Fort Montgomery Central School District, in the Hudson Valley around West Point rely on this funding in order to support educational development at schools and to give the children of our nation’s servicemen and women the education they deserve. Over the past three fiscal years, the school district has received over $3.4 million in Impact Aid funding, which can be used to pay the salaries of 48 teachers.
“I fought hard to ensure any spending proposal would maintain and increase funding for schools that educate the children of West Point families in Highland Falls. This new spending deal will allow for federal funds to fill the gaps through the Department of Education and puts resources right where they belong – in Highland Falls’ classrooms,” said Senator Schumer.
“Families near West Point rely on this funding to provide their children with the education and services they need,” said Senator Gillibrand. “These federal funds would help ensure children in military communities have access to the same educational opportunities as other children. I will continue working with my colleagues in the Senate to help schools and military communities in New York and across the country provide students with quality educational programs.”
“The Highland Falls – Fort Montgomery Central School District is grateful for the continued advocacy and support of Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, as well as Congressman Maloney, in restoring Federal Impact Aid for Properties to the Fiscal Year 2017 Budget,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank Sheboy. “Our school district relies on impact aid to fund its strong academic programs and the prospect of this being eliminated in the executive budget would have had disastrous impact on our ability to educate our children.”
Schumer and Gillibrand said that 93% of the land in the Highland Falls – Fort Montgomery School District is exempt from property taxation. In order to make up for lost tax revenue, the school district relies heavily on Impact Aid funding from the U.S. Department of Education as it works to serve nearly 1 million children in over 240 schools throughout the county. With the Military Academy at West Point located in the district, this critical funding ensures that approximately 200 military families with children in the district receive quality education. Impact Aid helps cover the gaps in special cases where the absence of funding normally raised through property taxes is not viable. A decrease in this support would have crippling effects on the programs, courses, and other resources that are offered throughout New York. Fortunately, with the new $1.3 billion allocation, Highland Falls’ schools that serve West Point families will continue to receive critical funding from the Impact Aid Program.
Senators Schumer and Gillibrand have advocated for Impact Aid year after year to ensure that schools in New York maintain access to the necessary resources needed to stay afloat and thrive. The Federal Impact Aid money that these school districts will receive is a significant part of their annual budgets and is the federal government’s assistance to districts that educate the children of our military personnel. Many of the districts that benefit say lack of this aid would have a devastating impact on their finances. The funding allows districts to meet the unique needs of students whose parents are in the military and decreasing it would hurt those who need it most.
Established in 1950, the Impact Aid Program is a major general aid source for over 1,300 school districts nationwide, or almost 10 percent of all districts. For some school districts, Impact Aid supplies as much as 75 percent of the local education operating budget.