The Republican majority on the Yonkers City Council is denouncing the state and Democratic legislators for failing to come through with enough school aid to keep the district from having to cut staff and programs next year.
“It’s time that Yonkers is not treated like an orphan,” said Councilman John Larkin, the Republican majority leader.
Last year the state came up with $28 million in extra money for Yonkers after an accounting error left a $45 million hole in the budget. In exchange for the bailout, the city agreed to take over some administrative functions from the schools, including finance.
This year, a nearly $20 million increase in building and non-building aid in the state budget only covers built-in expense increases, so without another $28 million the district will have to cut programs such as sports and arts, officials have said. Superintendent Michael Yazurlo has said $89 million is needed to provide an adequate education for Yonkers students.
“It’s really a shame that we can’t even now maintain the status quo,” Larkin said.
Larkin said a permanent solution must be found for the district’s funding problems, either a change in what he said is an unfair school aid formula (and an unfair building aid formula) or a recurring special revenue for Yonkers. Though school funding in Yonkers is approved by the City Council rather than going to the voters, officials argue the city cannot pick up the slack because it is near its constitutional taxing limit.
“It should be treated differently,” Larkin said, referring to the district’s aid levels. “It should be treated like one of the big five schools.”
Larkin said parents and unions need to raise a cry to put pressure on state officials to come up with the money.