New York State Legislature Passes Yonkers School Construction Act
Funding The Building of Three New Yonkers Public Schools
YONKERS, NY – June 22, 2017 – Just a year after Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano launched the Rebuild Yonkers Schools campaign, the New York State Legislature has passed the Yonkers School Construction Act, which will provide funding to build three new Yonkers Public Schools and address the longtime issue of overcrowding.
The bill, introduced by New York State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly member Shelley Mayer, will authorize two multi-year cost allowances in a five-year period for the computation of building aid for three new Yonkers schools, estimated to cost $300 million. The proposed three new schools include a new Gorton High School and two new PreK-8 schools on Ravine Avenue and off of Ashburton Avenue.
“Today marks a milestone in our efforts to rebuild Yonkers Schools. The passing of this act signifies our State’s and City’s commitment to address our overcrowded schools and to aid the thousands of students in the Yonkers Public Schools whose education will benefit from modern, healthy learning environments,” said Mayor Spano. “I would like to thank Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senator George Latimer, Assembly member Shelley Mayer and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow for their dedication to the future of Yonkers Public Schools. Thank you to the Yonkers Board of Education, Yonkers PTA, our parents, students and all our local advocates, including Westchester County Legislator Virginia Perez, Yonkers City Council President Liam McLaughlin and Council Minority Leader Michael Sabatino for lending their voices in making this critical step possible. I would also like to thank New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and State Senate Coalition Leader Jeff Klein for seeing the importance of this legislation. It is my hope that Governor Cuomo looks favorably on this legislation when it is delivered to him so we can get to work in restoring our schools to our children and building for their future.”
Dr. Edwin M. Quezada, Superintendent of Schools, celebrated this magnificent moment for Yonkers. “An incredible comprehensive education for Yonkers children is within their reach because our elected leaders fought for Yonkers children’s rights – quality education delivered in 21st century schools. Mayor Spano had the vision to rebuild Yonkers schools, and last night it became a reality through the relentless support of Assembly persons Mayer and Pretlow, Senators Stewart-Cousins and Latimer, and the City Council. Thank you!”
Board of Education President Rev. Steve Lopez echoed the accolades. “Our elected officials worked as an incredible team for our students. We are so appreciative of Mayor Mike Spano and all the effort put forth by our hardworking State Delegation, including the tremendous advocacy work of the Yonkers Council of PTAs. The academic, economic and social benefits from this bill for the City of Yonkers will be reaped for generations to come. Thanks to all on behalf of our kids!”
In 2016, Mayor Spano launched the Rebuild Yonkers Schools advocacy campaign to rebuild all 39 existing public schools and build three new schools in Yonkers over the course of four phases and 13 years. Last year, New York State passed legislation that enables the creation of the Yonkers Joint Schools Construction Board, which can bond for the cost of construction.
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.