Tioga School District Lands Big Donation

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Tioga Central School District Superintendent Scot Taylor talks by phone with casino owner Jeff Gural during Wednesday's press conference.

The Tioga Central School District can breathe a little easier now. The district faced a budget crisis when voters rejected a tax hike last month, but a local businessman is stepping in to help.

Tioga Downs casino owner Jeff Gural says he’ll foot the bill for the district’s extracurricular activities for the next two years. Gural plans to make the nearly $600,000 donation out of his own money. District sports and other activities faced cuts after voters rejected a proposed budget last month. The budget included a 30 percent tax increase.

Tioga senior Travis Pond says he wasn’t surprised to hear about a donation.

“I actually kind of expected it because everyone works together in the community,” he says. Pond adds that it’s not just some Friday night football at stake. “When you get to other places, like college, they look at what you did in high school – any extra things like football or college courses in classes. If that kind of stuff got cut, kids wouldn’t really have the advantages.”

With the donation and a few reductions, Tioga lowered its proposed tax hike to 17 percent. Superintendent Scot Taylor hopes that will be enough to get the budget through a revote on June 16. If the budget doesn’t pass, state law holds the district to no tax increase at all.

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