Albany, NY – Senate Democratic Leader and Senate bill sponsor Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senator George Latimer, Assembly bill sponsor Assemblymember Shelley Mayer, and Assemblymember Gary Pretlow today announced that legislation they supported to help rebuild crumbling Yonkers City schools and invest in new construction has been passed by both houses of the State Legislature. The legislation, Senate Bill S.6400-A / Assembly Bill A.7788-A, will authorize additional aid to continue the progress made under the Yonkers City School District Joint Schools Construction and Modernization Act.
Senate Bill Sponsor, Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, “Last year, my colleagues and I were able to ensure passage of a landmark bill to invest in Yonkers students and school infrastructure. I am proud that we have built on that success with this year’s legislation and commend Assembly bill sponsor Shelley Mayer and my colleagues Senator George Latimer, and Assemblymember Gary Pretlow for their work on this important bill. The process continued by this bill will help construct three new school facilities to address overcrowding. By utilizing state resources, we will help ensure Yonkers schools are better equipped to provide our children with the high quality education they deserve without placing undue burdens on local taxpayers.”
Assembly Bill Sponsor, Assemblymember Shelley Mayer, said, “This legislation helps us accelerate efforts to ensure the thousands of students in the Yonkers City School District no longer have to endure overcrowding and schools that are crumbling around them. This legislation will help increase funding for three new school buildings to dramatically help address the overcrowding problem. I am proud to build on the success of last year and thank my colleagues for supporting this common sense legislation.”
Currently, the average age of Yonkers’ school buildings is 75 years old, with the oldest building being 119 years old. Additionally, students are overcrowded in these antiquated facilities, with the 27,000-student district currently experiencing a 4,100-seat overcapacity with an additional 1,500 students projected to be enrolled over the next few years. To address this crisis, Senators Stewart-Cousins and Latimer and Assemblymembers Mayer and Pretlow introduced the Yonkers City School District Joint Schools Construction and Modernization Act in 2016 and saw it passed into law. This legislation will continue the progress made by that bill and allow for financing up to $523 million for the first phase of school facilities renovations and create a 9-member board to implement these projects. Due to increased student enrollment, these funds will also help start the process to authorize construction on three new buildings to increase capacity for Yonkers students.
Senator George Latimer said, “This legislation is a crucially needed piece in the revitalization of our schools in Yonkers. With the leadership of Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and the work of my Assembly partners Shelley Mayer and Gary Pretlow, we are continuing to ensure that our school infrastructure meets the needs of 21st century education.”
Assemblyman Gary Pretlow said, “This legislation continues the great work we did last year, and actually accelerates the process of helping Yonkers students. I commend State Senators Andrea Stewart-Cousins and George Latimer, and my colleague in the Assembly, Shelley Mayer, for their efforts. Yonkers students deserve an end to the overcrowding they are forced to endure, and this legislation will help us achieve that goal.”
Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said, “This is great news for the students of Yonkers and marks a milestone in our efforts to rebuild our schools. Thank you to our legislative leaders, especially our Yonkers state delegation Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senator George Latimer, Assembly member Shelley Mayer and Assembly member Gary Pretlow for advocating on behalf of our children and making this critical step possible. We look forward to getting to work and beginning the process of providing a healthy, safe environment for our students.”
Dr. Edwin M. Quezada, Yonkers Superintendent of Schools, said, “This is a momentous moment for Yonkers. Education in our city is about to soar to new heights because our elected leaders fought for Yonkers children’s rights – quality education delivered in 21st century schools. What a team! Assembly persons Mayer and Pretlow, Senators Stewart-Cousins and Latimer, Mayor Spano and the City Council...our most sincere gratitude. You are truly educational leaders.”
Board of Education President Rev. Steve Lopez said, “We are so appreciative of all the effort everyone put into this, including the tremendous advocacy work of the Yonkers Council of PTAs.. Thanks to all on behalf of our kids!! The academic, economic and social benefits from this bill for the City of Yonkers and our state will be reaped for generations to come.”