Gillibrand details attack on Capitol

U.S. Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand speaks at Jefferson Community College in Watertown last year. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — The recently passed bipartisan Fiscal Year 2021 government funding package includes $1.5 billion in funding for the country’s Impact Aid Program, delivering a $15 million increase from previous years.

Earlier this year, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand led a bipartisan letter alongside Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., urging appropriators to prioritize Impact Aid Funding to support more than 1,200 school districts across the country, including those near Fort Drum.

Federally impacted school districts educate some of the most vulnerable student populations — including Native American and military connected children — and rely on Impact Aid for resources.

As these school districts struggle to respond to the challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic, this continued funding will help alleviate expected state funding cuts and avoid layoffs, provide adequate technology for online learning, and spur economic recovery in their communities.

“I’m proud to have delivered this vital $15 million increase in Impact Aid funding to provide a lifeline for federally impacted school districts that have struggled to adapt to the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis,” Sen. Gillibrand said in a statement. “This pandemic has only increased the learning gap and this funding will help students who attend schools affected by federal activity have equal access to the same educational opportunities as other children. Continued funding for the Impact Aid Program will deliver necessary resources for school districts to address the unique challenges of the pandemic and ensure their success in the future.”

The Impact Aid Program is a federal program designed to supplement school budgets in districts that are on a large portion of federally owned, nontaxable land, such as military bases and Native American reservations. Several districts around Fort Drum, including the Sackets Harbor Central School District, the Carthage Central School District and the Indian River Central School District, rely on this funding in order to support educational development at schools.

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