City & District Unveil Next Step in Rebuild Yonkers Schools Advocacy
(Yonkers, NY – February 15, 2017) Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano, School Board President Rev. Steve Lopez and the Board of Education Trustees along with Dr. Edwin M. Quezada, Superintendent of Schools today relaunched 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. Mayor Spano unveiled the campaign’s latest step at Yonkers Middle High School to over 100 Yonkers Public Schools student leaders and asked them to contact state legislators to fund the $2 billion infrastructure plan, with #Fund2Rebuild.
Last year, Yonkers was successful in its first step in rebuilding Yonkers Schools when Governor Andrew Cuomo signed New York State legislation allowing the City of Yonkers to create the Yonkers Joint Schools Construction Board, the official steering committee that will oversee the repairing and rebuilding of Yonkers’ schools and can bond for the cost of construction.
“Today, we begin the next step in our fight to Rebuild Yonkers Schools,” said Mayor Spano. “We were successful last year in obtaining the Governor’s and State’s commitment to the thousands of students in the Yonkers Public Schools whose education will benefit from modern, healthy learning environments. We have a strong foundation to start the next phase of the process, which should include state reimbursements to fund the project – that’s why we need everyone’s continued support, especially from our young people, to ensure our voices are heard. The message to the State is simple: fund to rebuild our schools.”
The Rebuild Yonkers School $2 billion plan would 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, and two other new schools); estimated cost $523 million
- Phase II-IV – Extensive renovations, additions and infrastructure improvements at every school
Yonkers Board of Education President Rev. Steve Lopez emphasized, “Communities are judged by the quality of their schools. We have great teachers and administrators who provide a strong instructional program. What we must have are schools that are capable of supporting current and future technology and adequate instructional space for libraries, art and music. Our entire community benefits when students have the ability to truly excel.”
“Rebuilding Yonkers schools can no longer be a conversation; it must become a reality,” stated Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Edwin M. Quezada. “Our students are learning in spaces that are not suitable for a 21st century education. This is a travesty that must be corrected. Yonkers deserves the same support that has been provided to similar communities. Yonkers is poised and ready for sustainable solutions for student success. Give our students, teachers and administrators the opportunity to excel in facilities that are able to support a full array of instructional programs. Anything less is unacceptable”
In order to rebuild Yonkers Public Schools, Mayor Spano will again lobby 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.
“I worked hard with members of the community and my partners in government to pass this legislation and ensure we had a practical framework with which we could address the rebuilding of Yonkers schools,” said Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins. “I will continue to fight alongside my colleagues in the Legislature to create school buildings worthy of our children.”
"Every big city school district has received the help of New York State when rebuilding their aging school buildings,” said Senator George Latimer. “While we took the first step during last year's session, it is time that Yonkers gets the same help as everyone else. I look forward to working with my colleagues this year to ensure that every student in Yonkers will have a safe and healthy environment in which they can learn."
"The students in the Yonkers Public Schools deserve facilities that allow them to thrive and learn. Last year, I sponsored legislation and worked with my legislative colleagues, the City of Yonkers, and the Governor’s office to secure approval of the $2 billion infrastructure plan,” said Assemblymember Shelley Mayer. “Now, we will work to ensure we have the funding necessary to start the infrastructure improvements. I thank Mayor Spano, the Board of Education of the Yonkers Public Schools, YCPTA, and the Yonkers Federation of Teachers for working together to make certain our children have the programing and facilities they need and deserve."
“Every year the Council has passed resolutions which request that our City receive its fair share of funding, on par with Buffalo, Syracuse and Rochester,” Council President Liam McLaughlin said. “Not only should the underlying funding formula be addressed – the newly authorized school construction reimbursement rate must be adjusted. It simply isn’t fair that we are to receive a 70% reimbursement rate while the other big city school districts receive a 98% rate. Let’s work together as local representatives, parents, educators and taxpayers to work with Albany to fix these issues once and for all.”
The City’s proposal is to rebuild all 39 existing public schools and build three new schools in Yonkers over the course of four phases and 13 years. 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 4,500 seats over capacity. As a result, 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.