Yonkers Mayor Spano & City Advocates Call On New York State to Fund Yonkers Schools Fairly
YONKERS, NY – March 12, 2019 -- Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano, along with the Yonkers Board of Education Trustees, the Superintendent of Schools Dr. Edwin M. Quezada, Yonkers City Councilmembers, local union leaders and Yonkers Public School students, today gathered at Yonkers City Hall to call on New York State to provide additional state education aid to Yonkers.
“Yonkers chronically has been underfunded by Albany for years and there must be a permanent, structural change to the state aid formula in order for Yonkers students to move forward,” said Mayor Spano. “Together we must advocate for our students, teachers and administration to ensure they are funded fairly and equitably. Our State Capitol has helped us fill budget gaps in the past, but the days of temporary ‘band-aids’ to fix our City budget must end.”
This year, Yonkers Public Schools face a $60 million deficit which could potentially lead to major cuts and layoffs. Currently, the Foundation Aid Formula appropriates nearly $8,000 per Yonkers pupil. By formula, Yonkers’ students lag its sister cities Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo by approximately $2,000 – $3,000 per student. Based on Yonkers Public Schools enrollment, the difference in annual funding among Yonkers and its sister cities ranges between $52 million to $79 million.
Mayor Spano added, “Yonkers taxpayers have exhausted their means, hitting our taxing limitations. It is not appropriate for Albany to suggest we tax our residents even more. Nearly seventy cents of every taxpayer’s dollar contributes to Yonkers Schools. We have struggled and made it through each year with the assistance of one-shots, but that has not fixed the systemic problem. It’s time Albany rightfully fund Yonkers Schools so we can educate our students on the level playing ground they deserve.”
Yonkers City Council President Mike Khader stated, "Yonkers schools are systematically deprived of funding by an inequitable state formula that shortchanges our kids. We need Albany to give Yonkers students their fair share. Our students and schools are victims of annual budget crises that could be avoided simply by providing Yonkers schools with appropriate state aid. Rising graduation rates and student achievement show that Yonkers students are doing their part; the question is, will Albany?"
"We need a structural change to ensure that our schools are funded properly,” said Yonkers Council Majority Leader Michael Sabatino. “We are at 93 percent of our taxing limit -- we need a permanent fix to this annual problem. The only way that can happen is by fixing the foundation formula that funds our schools and by fixing the reimbursement rates for capital school projects. We thank our delegation for assisting us in the past now we need their assistance in getting permanent recurring funds."
Yonkers Council Minority Leader Mike Breen said, “For decades our Public Schools have been woefully underfunded by the State of New York while the City of Yonkers has provided records amount of aid for our students. Our test scores and graduation rates rise as the State funding remains stagnant. That is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our teachers, parents, administration and Board of Education Trustees.”
Board of Education President Rev. Steve Lopez stated, “Quality public education is the engine that drives economic and social advancements in urban communities. The City of Yonkers has demonstrated a collaborative will to ensure all children are properly served today and beyond. Now is the time for the State to embrace this mandate. Equitable properly funded public schools must be our united moral imperative.”
“The Foundation Aid formula has left Yonkers Public Schools behind for decades,” notes Dr. Edwin M. Quezada, Superintendent of Schools. “Annually relying on generous one-shot appropriations from the Legislature and Governor to manage our budget cannot continue. Yonkers students have repeatedly proven they are the best return on investment of any urban school district in New York State and beyond. With the relentless commitment of Yonkers educators our students’ academic achievement continues on an upward trend; the Class of 2018 achieved an 86% graduation rate and a significant low 3% dropout rate. We are asking the State to provide an uninterrupted sustainable solution by increasing Yonkers Foundation Aid ratio. This solution will address the structural funding issues that impede Yonkers ability to sustain the magnificent gains Yonkers children continue achieve.”
“The Yonkers Federation of Teachers stands with all of our stakeholders to call upon the New York State Legislators and the Governor to be courageous in their decision-making so that our students get what they need and deserve. Let’s end this annual cycle once and for all!” said Samantha Rosado-Ciriello, President Yonkers Federation of Teachers.
“While I reflect on the past as I continue to re-envision the future, one constant remains: our commitment to the children of Yonkers and their needs for a sound basic education are the services that need to remain a priority,” said Roberto Rijos, YCPTA President. “Sustainable funding is critical as we face a $60 million deficit. This is for our community and for our children because #YonkersKidsMatter.”
Mayor Spano plans to travel to Albany Wednesday, March 13th and meet with state officials about the needs of the Yonkers Public Schools. He also will join Yonkers PTA parents and students on Tuesday, March 19th in Albany as they rally at the State Capitol to Fund Yonkers Fairly.
New York State is expected to pass its annual budget by April 1st.