Saratoga, N.Y. – Congresswoman Elise Stefanik is partnering with New York State Assemblyman Robert Smullen and Senator James Tedisco to request the New York State Division of the Budget provide supplemental funding to both Indian Lake Central School District and Long Lake Central School District.

New York State received over $14 billion in supplemental federal funding through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund to address the needs of school districts throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, yet Indian Lake Central School District and Long Lake Central School District have not received any supplemental funding. While most of the supplemental funding was required to be allocated to school districts based on an existing formula, New York State was provided the flexibility to direct over $728 million based on the state’s determination of the emergency needs of students and school districts.

In part, the letter reads: As you know, very small school districts are not included in the annual Title I-A allocations if they lack a minimum number of eligible children. Many states recognized this issue and used a portion of their ESSER discretionary funds to ensure all small rural school districts receive some funding to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 as they continue to serve the students and families in their communities. Yet to date, these two school districts in the North Country have not received any supplemental federal funding.

The letter goes on to read: To equip all students across the state, regardless of the size of the school they attend, with the necessary support to overcome the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we request you direct available funds to provide immediate assistance to Indian Lake Central School District and Long Lake Central School District.

“Our North Country schools faced an unprecedented challenge in adapting and overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is essential that they all receive federal support – especially our smaller school districts,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “My office has worked directly with these school administrators and local elected officials to identify the issue and request that New York State provide these schools with the necessary funding to cover their increased expenses. No school should be left out – regardless of their size and location.”

“While the vast majority of school districts in New York State have received federal funding through the Elementary and Secondary School Relief Fund, Indian Lake School District and Long Lake School District in Hamilton County are not because of an obscure, byzantine funding loophole. The students and educators in these two wonderful school districts should not be penalized over bureaucratic red tape. We are asking the Governor to do the right thing and use some of the $10 million he controls in state bullet aid or the $12.75 billion in federal aid through the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund to make these two school districts whole. I want to thank Congresswoman Elise Stefanik for her strong leadership and efforts to help right this wrong for our shared constituents in Hamilton County,” said Senator Jim Tedisco (R,C-Glenville).

“Our small school districts in the Adirondacks deserve to be treated fairly in Federal funding consideration.  It is a matter of social equity for our rural kids to be properly funded in the 21st century, and not to be left on the wrong side of the digital divide.  New York State should treat Indian Lake and Long Lake in an equal manner, along with all the other school children in the Empire State,” said Assemblyman Robert Smullen (R,C,I,SAM-Meco).

Read the full letter here.