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Tompkins County schools brace for reduced state aid

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  • Staff Report 

School districts throughout Tompkins County are preparing for a decrease in state funding next year, influenced by declining student enrollment and changes to New York State’s aid allocation formula. The anticipation of less aid comes amid adjustments in Governor Kathy Hochul’s proposed 2025 state budget, which aims for a moderate increase in education funding but adjusts the formula for its distribution, potentially impacting rural districts more severely.

Despite an overall 2.4% rise in education aid in the proposed budget, the adjustments might end support mechanisms like the “hold harmless” clause, which previously protected districts from certain funding cuts. This proposal has sparked concerns, especially for districts that rely heavily on state aid, like the rural Newfield Central School District, which has been experiencing fiscal stress for several years.

The potential reduction in state aid has prompted discussions among school districts about increasing reliance on local property taxes to cover budget shortfalls. In Tompkins County, where student enrollment has been gradually decreasing, the change could lead to greater financial challenges, particularly for districts with less capacity to raise local funds. The situation underscores the ongoing balancing act between state funding, local tax revenues, and the need to support educational services in diverse communities.