It came down to the wire, but more than 200 positions and programs have been saved in the Yonkers School District following the City Council's adoption of a $1.2 billion budget that includes increased funding for the district.
On Wednesday, the Council adopted the budget, which includes a 6.2 percent property tax increase, which averages out to an increase of $560 for homeowners annually or $46 per month.
Last week, citing a rise in employee salaries and benefits, the rising cost of utilities, transportation and tuitions, Yonkers Schools Superintendent Edwin Quezada stated that, “what cost the district $592 million this year will cost us $623 million in 2018-19.”
Ultimately, the City Council adopted a 2018-19 spending plan that will allow the Board of Education to move forward with a $615.6 budget as they attempt to narrow the budget gap.
According to the NYSPTA, the cuts would have included a dozen art and music teachers, six gym teachers, five elementary school teachers, 14 guidance counselors, 54 teaching assistants, 50 bus monitors, five public safety officers and 50 school aids. The cuts would also have included educational programs and services.
“Two months ago the City Council received a proposed budget that included 185 municipal layoffs and 251 layoffs in the Yonkers Public School system,” Councilman John Rubbo stated. “Over the last eight weeks, we combed through every line of this budget and in working with our colleagues, Mayor Mike Spano and his finance team, we were able to restore all of those positions
"I must be clear, I am not happy with this tax increase. It affects me, my family, my friends and neighbors who have decided to make this great City their home. This vote allows us to move forward while working toward efficiencies in our government. Yonkers is better today then yesterday and we will be better tomorrow."
The Board of Education also received a “one-shot” influx of $8.8 million to help close the district’s budget gap.
“Months of advocacy by relentless stakeholders with State and local officials paid off,” Quezada noted. “The sustained progress our District has made improving instruction, students’ academic achievement and graduation rates were validated by the support we continue to receive from Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The Governor’s actions signify his understanding of the hard work being done by everyone in Yonkers.”
The budget has been signed by Spano and sent to the Comptroller’s Office for certification.
“A new strong coalition laser-focused on Yonkers education was formed this year through the extensive advocacy undertaken by the Yonkers Council of PTAs, Federation of Teachers, Council of Administrators, CSEA and Teamsters working hand-in-hand with the Trustees,” Quezada concluded. “Moving forward, I am confident that the leadership of this new coalition will continue to join forces to sustain quality education for all children in Yonkers.”
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