Why are north country schools getting less federal impact aid?

Philadelphia, New York (WWNY) – Fort Drum pumps millions of dollars into the local economy, including schools. It’s called Federal Impact Aid.

But a recent report showed that the aid this year is down millions of dollars from last year.

The halls of Indian River Middle School are under construction. It’s a big renovation project, and offsetting the costs, Federal Impact Aid.

“It puts us in a financial condition where we can do projects like this,” said Indian River Superintendent Troy Decker.

It goes to schools that lose property tax revenue because of tax-exempt federal property within the district, like Fort Drum.

It also goes to districts that have experienced increased costs because of its military-connected students.

“Certainly impact Indian River and Carthage in the biggest way in our region. But there are a number of other districts that receive smaller but still sizeable allocations,” said Jefferson-Lewis BOCES Superintendent Stephen Todd.

According to the most recent Fort Drum Economic Impact Statement, money to Jefferson County schools dropped from a year ago, from $41 million, to $33 million.

Indian River has seen a decrease in military connected students, but still budgeted around the same amount this upcoming year as it did last year: About $18 million in federal revenue.

“Over the last couple of years, there’s been a decrease in families that have traveled with their soldiers to some degree, likely COVID-based decisions,” Decker said.

So why are millions of dollars in federal impact aid disappearing? Well, according to a 2018 report by the State Comptroller’s Office, Carthage Central School District was set to lose a significant amount of its Federal Impact Aid by the 2021-2022 school year.

Our questions about that to Superintendent Jennifer Premo went unanswered.

But estimates from the State Comptroller’s Office indicate Carthage was set to lose about $11 million in aid from 2017 to 2022, because the school lost its “heavily impacted aid” funding, citing the district did not have a high enough percentage of military-connected students

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