New York State School Boards Association

Fiscal Cliff Consequences Steep for New York Schools

FOR RELEASE:  December 11, 2012

CONTACT: David Albert
(518) 783-3716 or (518) 320-2221 cell
On Twitter: @nyschoolboards

School districts in New York State would lose an average of $243,000 in federal funding for their 2013-14 school budgets if lawmakers in Washington, D.C. cannot avert the so-called fiscal cliff by January 2, according to a NYSSBA analysis of federal grant allocations to school districts.

“The consequences of lawmakers not reaching agreement on the fiscal cliff are severe for students in New York schools, especially those in city school districts,” said New York State School Boards Association Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer.

In total, schools in New York stand to lose $164 million in federal funding earmarked largely for educational programs serving students with disabilities and students in poverty. NYSSBA’s analysis is based on across-the-board cuts in federal programs – known as sequestration – that the White House estimates to be 8.2 percent.

New York’s five largest school districts – the so-called Big Five – would receive the largest cuts:  $95.1 million in New York City, $4.1 million in Buffalo, $3.4 million in Rochester, and $1.6 million each in Syracuse and Yonkers.

School districts in Western New York, Long Island and the Lower Hudson Valley would take the largest hits, losing an average of $175,000, $110,000 and $139,000 in federal funding, respectively.

Schools in the North Country and Southern Tier would face the largest hurdles in raising funds to keep these programs in place: they would need to raise their property tax levies by nearly 1 percentage point on average just to make up for the lost federal aid and maintain current programs.  That is noteworthy because by law, school districts must obtain the support of a 60 percent “supermajority” of voters in order to raise tax levies by more than 2 percent.

“The impact of the fiscal cliff is made far more pronounced by the state’s property tax levy cap, which essentially limits the amount of revenue schools can raise locally,” said Kremer.  “For the sake of our students, President Obama and lawmakers in Washington, D.C. must prevent schools from becoming a casualty of the fiscal cliff.”

To determine the impact of the fiscal cliff on school districts, NYSSBA analyzed 2012-13 federal  grant allocations to school districts in the following categories: Title I, Part A (aid for disadvantaged students); Title II, Part A (teacher quality grants); IDEA Part B, Section 611 (grants for children with disabilities); IDEA Part B, Section 619 (special education pre-school grants); Title II, Part B (math/science education partnerships); Title III, Part A (aid for immigrant students); Title III, Part A (aid for LEP students); and Title VI, Part B (aid for rural districts).

Below is a table that shows the geographic impact of the cuts, along with the average state aid increase and local tax levy that would be needed to make up for the cut. 


Total sequestration cut

Average  sequestration cut per district

Average % increase in state aid per district needed to make up for cut

Average % increase in tax levy per district needed to make up for cut






Capital Region





North Country





Long Island





Lower and mid-Hudson Valley





Mohawk Valley





Central New York





Southern Tier





Finger Lakes





Western New York





New York City





Note: The average % increase in tax levy per district to make up for the federal aid cut does not include the Big Five city school districts because property tax levy information for those districts was unavailable.


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