Mayor Mike Spano & Yonkers Public Schools Launch Advocacy Campaign to Rebuild Yonkers Schools
YONKERS, NY – February 1, 2016 – Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano, City Council President Liam J. McLaughlin, Yonkers City Council, School Board President Dr. Nader J. Sayegh and the Board of Education Trustees along with Dr. Edwin M. Quezada, Superintendent of Schools today launched Rebuild Yonkers Schools, a public advocacy campaign to generate support for the City’s proposal to rebuild all 39 existing public schools and build three new schools in Yonkers. Starting this month, Yonkers will lobby for a $2 billion, four phase plan to be passed by the New York State Legislature which would provide the necessary funding to rebuild the deteriorating infrastructure of Yonkers schools.
The average age of Yonkers Public Schools is 75 years old with many as old as 100 years old, making them some of the oldest in New York State. The District is also one of two districts in New York with a growing enrollment teaching 27,000 students, which is currently 4,100 seats over capacity. As a result, these students are being taught in spaces that were never intended to serve as classrooms such as basements, libraries and auditoriums. Alternate classroom accommodations including annexes and mobile trailers also have become overcrowded.
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“It has become very apparent that there is an infrastructure crisis in our schools,” said Mayor Spano. “We can no longer bandage our way out of this increasingly damaging issue facing our schools, and more importantly our students. The time has come to completely rebuild Yonkers schools and create a modern, healthy learning environment for every Yonkers student.”
In order to rebuild Yonkers Public Schools, Mayor Spano will be lobbying this legislative session for a continued partnership with New York State for the funding needed to execute the plan. The State has already partnered with upstate cities to rebuild the entire school stocks in Buffalo, Syracuse and Rochester, even as those student populations decline while Yonkers continues to grow.
Mayor Spano added, “Over the last few years, we’ve faced some serious challenges in our schools, but we’ve come out on top because of the partnership we have with Governor Cuomo, our local delegation and the entire State Legislature. Let’s take that partnership and let’s strengthen it, build upon it and rebuild our schools.”
Dr. Edwin M. Quezada, Superintendent of Yonkers Schools said, “Our schools are at or over their capacity and cannot accommodate current technology or required additional instructional space for our growing enrollment and increasing need for in-district space for Students with Disabilities and English Languages Learners. This can be remedied by Yonkers’ proposed legislation for the reconstruction of our schools. I support this legislation and will vigorously lobby for its adoption.”
“This is about learning and making sure we provide for safe and healthy environments for our students,” said Dr. Nader J. Sayegh, President of the Yonkers Board of Education. “This plan will mean state-of-the-art buildings, new classrooms to reduce overcrowding and playing fields for our kids, providing Yonkers students with the same opportunities already available to so many students across New York.”
If approved, the $2 billion plan will roll out in four phases with an estimated completion date of 2029. The four phases of the plan includes:
- Phase I - infrastructure improvements in all 39 schools and the building of three new schools (new Gorton High School, proposed new schools on Ravine Avenue and off of Ashburton Avenue)
- Phase II-IV – Extensive renovations, additions and infrastructure improvements at every school
Yonkers City Council President Liam J. McLaughlin said, "You can't build a well-rounded education without building better schools and it begins by implementing a model for Yonkers similar to what the other big five school districts have received that brings us together to finance the long overdue rebuilding of our school facilities."
Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, “I am glad that Mayor Spano has started this essential conversation about reinvesting in our public school facilities. No student should be forced to attend classes in a school that is crumbling around them, and it is crucial that we invest in our school infrastructure so our children have equal opportunities to learn, grow and succeed in the new economy. I am very proud of our success last year in securing an additional $25 million to offset the Yonkers school funding crisis and I will continue fighting so all schools receive the state aid they deserve.”
"Yonkers deserves the support for needed capital in our schools that has been provided to other major cities in New York State, said George Latimer, New York State Senator, 37th Senate District. “I support this initiative on behalf of the children of Yonkers and their parents."
New York Assemblymember Shelley Mayer, 90th Assembly District, said, "As a longtime champion of the Yonkers Public Schools, I look forward to working with my colleagues locally and in Albany to help repair and rebuild the schools for the children of Yonkers, as they deserve. I commend Mayor Spano for his innovative approach to finding critical funding to invest in our schools."
"We have schools with cornerstones dating as far back as the early 1900s and even the 1800s," said Councilman Mike Breen, Education Chair for the Yonkers City Council. "It is time we take action and rebuild our schools so that we can educate our students in the environments suitable for the 21st century. It is time Yonkers becomes part of the equation in modernizing New York State schools. I urge our community to rally around this cause that will benefit students today and our future generations."
As part of the effort, Rebuild Yonkers Schools released a new website and video at www.rebuildyonkersschools.com and social media platforms, www.facebook.com/rebuildyonkersschools and www.twitter.com/rebuildyonkersschools.