ITHACA, N.Y.—Cornell University and the Ithaca City School District announced Thursday that the Ivy League school will increase its yearly contribution to the school district from $500,000 to $650,000.

The increase in the annual contribution, made voluntarily, apparently stemmed from conversations between ICSD Superintendent Dr. Luvelle Brown and Cornell president Martha Pollack, according to a press release. The funding commitment lasts until June 2031, and comes two years after Cornell’s $500,000 per year commitment to the district that began in 2021.

The funding is not restricted, meaning the district can use it in any variety of ways throughout its 12 schools. Brown mentioned that this year’s contribution will likely go to retaining staff, which has been a struggle for the district in recent years, similar to nationwide trends in primary education.

“The senior leadership at Cornell University has been very supportive of our school district’s endeavors,” Brown said in the announcement. “I hope to allocate this most recent generous financial contribution toward our targeted efforts to retain excellent employees across our organization.”

Update: The amount represents about 0.4 percent of the school district’s full budget, which is $158.6 million for the 2023-2024 school year.

The announcement comes as Cornell and the City of Ithaca negotiate a new memorandum of understanding, which will include a yearly contribution that Cornell makes to the city. The desire for Cornell to pay more than its current $1.6 million contribution per year has been a constant theme in local politics this year as the old memorandum of understanding, signed in 1995, came to an end.

“We are pleased to be able to provide this additional support for the Ithaca City School District’s important operations,” Pollack said. “By increasing and extending assistance to the district, we are helping to mitigate ongoing, significant demands on the district’s budget and helping to ensure a strong school system, which is vital to the larger community, including Cornell.”

Matt Butler is the Editor in Chief of The Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at