A Multi-Million Dollar Win for Yonkers Public Schools

December 20, 2017

Yonkers, NY State Senate Minority Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins along with Assemblymember Shelley Mayer announced today that Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed into law a bill they sponsored which amends the computation of building aid for Yonkers Public Schools to allow for accelerated funding of their rebuild efforts.

Bill A-7788A/S-6400-A provides an additional $78 million to Yonkers Public Schools, and accelerates funding for financing up to $523 million for the first phase of renovations and construction of three new schools in the already over-enrolled Yonkers Public Schools. This new law continues the progress under the Yonkers City School District Joint Schools Construction and Modernization Act, passed in 2016, which allows for the creation of a new authority to oversee up to $2 billion in reconstruction of Yonkers Public Schools buildings. The average age of Yonkers' school buildings is 75 years old, with the oldest building at 119 years old. The school district is also almost 5,000 students over capacity and growing.

"This bill allows for the repair and restoration of existing schools so our children can learn in a safe and comfortable environment," said State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senate sponsor of the bill. "It also provides enough funding to build three new ones. These new facilities will help mitigate overcrowding and allow our kids to receive the attention they need to excel and reach their potential. This is an important step in our journey to rebuild Yonkers schools, and I am proud to have fought for the passage of this bill alongside community leaders and my colleagues in the legislature."

"This new law helps us ensure that the Yonkers Public Schools can move ahead to rebuild and renovate existing buildings serving the 27,000 students of the Yonkers Public Schools," said Assemblymember Shelley Mayer, Assembly sponsor of the bill. "Together with the initial enactment of the Joint Schools Construction and Modernization Act, we have made tremendous progress in meeting the needs of the Yonkers Public Schools, their students, teachers, staff, and our entire community. I want to thank my legislative colleagues, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and Governor Andrew Cuomo for their continued commitment to working with us to find a practical solution to the need to build and renovate public school infrastructure in Yonkers."

The three new schools are proposed to be a new Gorton High School, and two new Pre-K through 8 schools, one on Ravine Avenue, and one off of Ashburton Avenue.

"I am delighted for the Yonkers Public Schools that Governor Andrew Cuomo signed this bill to accelerate funding for the district's rebuild efforts," said Assemblymember Gary Pretlow. "Thank you to all those who sponsored and supported this most important bill for the City of Yonkers. Every child should have an opportunity to learn and every teacher should have an opportunity to teach in an in an environment that is modernized, not crumbling. I am certain that updated school buildings will help ensure that our children succeed."

State Senator George Latimer said, "I wish to commend the Governor for signing this legislation into law. It is imperative that the renovation of the Yonkers schools progresses as quickly as possible. It is a duty we owe the children in our community, and the combined efforts of my colleagues and Governor Cuomo on this bill means we are getting closer to achieving our collective goals."

"This law puts Yonkers one step closer to rebuilding our aging schools," said Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano. "Thank you to our state delegation for fighting for our Yonkers Public Schools. I look forward to continuing to work with them so our students have a healthy and safe learning environment for years to come."

Rev. Steve Lopez, President, Yonkers Board of Education noted, "Today's action by Governor Cuomo, once again, demonstrates the strong long-term commitment the Governor and our State delegation has to the City of Yonkers and our children today and for generations to come."

"Governor Cuomo and our elected leaders continue to fight for Yonkers children's right to a quality education delivered in 21st century schools," said Dr. Edwin M. Quezada, Superintendent of Yonkers Public Schools. "Today's bill helps lift some of the financial burden off Yonkers' taxpayers, and, more importantly, validates the promise for equitable educational excellence for urban children by the Governor, Senators Stewart-Cousins and Latimer and Assemblymembers Mayer and Pretlow. Our thanks are also extended to all of the Yonkers stakeholders for their relentless efforts on behalf of our students."

"Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assemblymember Shelley Mayer were instrumental in pressing for this legislation to bring money to Yonkers Public Schools. We applaud the Yonkers state legislative delegation for their tireless efforts in working with other state legislators and unions to ensure our school buildings are safe and inviting places for teachers to teach and students to learn," said Samantha Rosado-Ciriello, President of the Yonkers Federation of Teachers.

"We are thrilled for Yonkers Public School students, teachers, and staff that the district will be receiving these funds from the state to renovate aging buildings. Our schools deserve this funding," said Sally Pinto, President of the Yonkers Council of PTAs. "Thank you to Assemblymember Shelley Mayer and State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins for your tireless work on behalf of Yonkers Public Schools, and thank you to Governor Andrew Cuomo for prioritizing our students and the City of Yonkers by signing this bill."