03.29.19

SCHUMER REVEALS: HIGHLAND FALLS SCHOOL DISTRICT FACING CRIPPLING FED BUDGET CUT; SENATOR SOUNDS ALARM & DETAILS PUSH TO UNDO DRAMATIC CUT TO IMPACT AID; WITH MILLIONS PER YEAR AT STAKE, STUDENTS FACE LOSS OF CRITICAL PROGRAMS & DISTRICT FACES LOSS OF TEACHERS

Just-Released Admin. Budget Proposal Would Completely Eliminate Highland Falls Programs Kids Need; Nails On The Chalkboard Cuts Would Remove Dozens of Teachers, Pre-K Program, Extra Curriculars & More 

 Schumer Launches Major Push To Reverse Proposed Elimination, Provide Full Funding For Program  

Schumer To Feds: It’s Not A Hard Equation To Solve – Cutting Highland Falls’ Impact Aid Would Be A Zero-Sum Plan

Standing at Fort Montgomery Elementary School, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today launched a major push to reverse the administration’s proposed cuts to the Department of Education (ED) Impact Aid Program, which provides millions of dollars in critical aid funding to Highland Falls School District. Schumer said that the heartless slashing of the Impact Aid budget would be catastrophic to the Highland Falls School District, which receives the lion’s share of the Impact Aid funding going to New York, and would reduce quality of learning for students and decrease teachers across the district.

Schumer explained that this Impact Aid funding is in the multiple millions of dollars and accounts for a whopping 10% of the school district’s total operating budget. Without it, the district would be forced to lay-off teachers and eliminate vital pre-kindergarten programming, its advanced placement track, and extra-curriculars in the arts, athletics and technology. Schumer urged the administration to immediately reverse course and restore desperately-needed funding for the Impact Aid program, to ensure that Highland Falls School District has the resources it needs to provide a high-quality education to the 1,000 students it serves. 

 “A quality education is the foundation on which our children can build successful and fulfilling lives, and it’s no secret that Highland Falls School District routinely gives local students a quality education thanks in part to the millions of dollars provided by the federal Impact Aid program,” said Senator Schumer. “The administration’s thoughtless gutting of this crucial lifeline would be a tragic mistake for many school districts throughout the country, but especially difficult for Highland Falls, which receives millions of dollars in Impact Aid funding each year and stands to lose the most funding out of any district in New York state. The cut would drastically hinder the quality of learning for Highland Falls students, increase pressure for teachers who already work tirelessly, and devastate the school district as a whole. I’ll do everything I can to reverse these severe cuts and restore full funding to the Impact Aid program, to ensure the Highland Falls School District has access to all the resources needed to continue to provide a high-quality education to the 1,000 students it serves.”

Schumer explained that the Highland Falls School District relies on federal Impact Aid funding to operate its schools because approximately 93% of the land within the district is exempt from property taxation due to the fact that it is federal- and state-owned land. As a result, Highland Falls has a very small tax base, roughly 7%, to fund its schools. The Impact Aid program helps local school districts make up for a funding shortfall caused by having such a large percentage of land exempt from taxation.

Schumer detailed that Highland Falls receives approximately $3.4 million in federal Impact Aid per year, which accounts for 10% of the school district’s operating budget. Schumer explained that should these cuts be signed into law, Highland Falls School District could lose between 30 and 40 faculty members, and be forced to cut its advanced placement track, pre-kindergarten programming, as well as extra-curricular programming in technology, the arts and athletics. Schumer vowed to do everything in his power to thwart the unnecessary cuts to Impact Aid, to ensure Highland Falls School District students have access to a good education that will prepare them for the rest of their lives. 

“The District is, once again, grateful for Senator Schumer's advocacy for the children.  He has been an ardent supporter of our District and of Impact Aid throughout his tenure in the Senate,” said Superintendent Frank Sheboy. The prospect of a loss of Impact Aid would be disastrous to our children and to our community.  Our faculty and staff work tirelessly to provide wonderful educational opportunities for the children, but a loss of $3.4 million in Impact Aid would mean gutting our academic program.  From our model PreKindergarten program to our Advanced Placement program, and everything in between, every aspect of our school district would face negative consequence.  Our children and our entire community would suffer immeasurable and irreparable harm.  We are fortunate to have Senator Schumer as an ally in this fight.”

"It’s egregious that there has to be a continued fight for the Highland Falls School District to get their much-needed Impact Aid," said New York State Senator James Skoufis. "The federal budget proposal is once again looking to cut funding that is vital to the sustainability of our community. 93% of this land is untaxable, and 63% of that is owned by the federal government that needs to acknowledge its fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers. Without impact aid, our students will suffer the consequences of losing teachers, classrooms, and resources, an unacceptable proposition." 

Since its creation in 1950, the Impact Aid program has provided assistance to local school districts with concentrations of children residing on military bases or other federal properties, such as West Point, on Indian lands, low-rent housing properties, and concentrations of children who have parents in the uniformed services or employed on eligible federal properties who do not live on federal property. The Impact Aid Program is designed to directly compensate local school districts for local revenue lost due to the presence of federally owned, and therefore tax-exempt property, as well as costs incurred due to "federally connected" students, such as the children of armed services personnel working at a nearby military base. These school districts face special challenges — they must provide a quality education to the children living on federal lands while often operating with less local revenue than is available to other school districts because their federal property is exempt from local property taxes or the presence of larger numbers of federally connected students.

Schumer has long fought to boost funding for the Impact Aid Program, specifically in Highland Falls. In 2014, Schumer fought to secure a provision that locked a new funding calculation for the Impact Aid Program to increase aid for Highland Falls, as well as a three-year extension for the essential program. In September of last year, Schumer announced, following his push, he had successfully fought to secure a $32 million boost for the Impact Aid program in Fiscal Year 2019, bringing its total funding to $1.446 billion.

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