The state Legislature’s Yonkers delegation is on board with a two-part bailout for the city’s troubled school district, calling on Mayor Mike Spano to put out a specific plan on how he plans to implement the relief package.
Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly members Shelley Mayer (pictured) and Gary Pretlow, all Yonkers Democrats, issued a statement late Sunday praising the bailout package, which will provide the city’s school system with a one-time $28 million infusion of state cash and an OK to borrow up to $45 million.
The package was included in the state budget agreement, which is being voted on today, in exchange for Yonkers agreeing to put together a plan to consolidate non-academic services between the city and its school system. The schools are facing a large budget deficit after an accounting error led to a $55 million hole in both last year and this year’s budget.
Sen. George Latimer, D-Rye, who also represents a portion of Yonkers, is also on board with the relief package, according to his spokesman.
All four lawmakers had previously expressed concern with Spano’s call for full mayoral control of the school district. But the final budget only gives his office more authority of the administrative portions of the school district, not the academic end.
Here’s the full statement from Stewart-Cousins, Mayer and Pretlow:
“Yonkers is facing a fiscal crisis that requires immediate action. The final state budget will include $17 million dollars for the Yonkers Public Schools, an increase of 7.67% over last year’s amount. This is a higher percentage increase than any of the big five school districts. In addition, by passing the Education bill, we will be taking the needed steps to address the crisis while expanding state oversight over both the City of Yonkers and the Yonkers School District.
“By authorizing $45 million in borrowing for operational deficits, and by granting $28 million directly for the Yonkers Public Schools, the budget will allow the City of Yonkers to take immediate steps to fill much of gap. At the same time, in order to prevent this kind of financial mismanagement from happening again, we are increasing direct state financial oversight by the Comptroller and the State Education Department over both the City of Yonkers and the Yonkers School District. While the ultimate language on governance is not what we would have wanted, it was required by the state in order to receive the additional education funds. Working together, we ensured that the Superintendent and the Board of Education will continue to retain authority over all educational matters.
“As the provisions of this package are rolled out, we urge our City leaders to ensure that our children’s needs are first and foremost. To that end, we urge the Mayor to release his specific plans on how this relief package will be implemented as quickly as possible and include all stakeholders in future discussions on this issue.”