YONKERS, N.Y. ‒ The Yonkers Public School District lost a grant worth over a million dollars Friday and stands to lose millions more if it can’t come to terms with teachers on an evaluation plan. Friday's loss comes to a budget that has already dwindled over the past several years.
In addition, the district will loose a total of $16.7 million if it doesn’t submit an Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) by the state-mandated deadline of Jan. 17, 2013. That's when the evaluation system goes into effect.
Though the deadline is well over a month away, the New York State Education Department requested that Yonkers submit the review by Saturday, Dec. 1. The district’s failure to do so has cost it $1.2 million in a Systemic Supports for District and School Turnaround Grant dedicated to providing resources to the district’s 14 neediest schools over a two-year period.
If Yonkers fails to adhere to the final deadline, the district will forfeit its share of the state’s 2012-2013 education aid increase, roughly $9 million. It will also loose $5.5 million in competitive funding, mostly from grants.
The loss of $9 million in state funding would result in around 200 job cuts, said Superintendent of Schools Bernard Pierorazio.
“I am deeply disappointed and concerned that if we continue to lose funding opportunities, the district will be forced to begin eliminating staff and programs in January,” said Pierorazio. "I was hoping to have everything finalized by the end of October, and now it's the end of November. I think both parties need to work as hard as they can to solve the main disagreement, which is a full-blown contract."
Patricia Puleo, president of the Yonkers Federation of Teachers, said coming to an agreement is a priority, but that teachers would feel more respected with a new contract.
"We've been negotiating a new contract for two years, and have been without a contact for a year-and-a-half," said Puleo. "It's hard to say what needs to happen to finalize everything, but the timeline gives us a strong push. Not coming to an agreement before the deadline is positively not something we want to see happen, but at the same time the district has to be serious about what we're asking for."
Pierorazio said he hopes an agreement is made soon, because the district can't handle any more cuts.
"We're still dealing from the cuts made two years ago," said Pierorazio. "We probably have close to 200 positions that have not been restored. To loose another 200 would severely impact the district. I don't want to cause panic, because my hope is that we can come to an agreement before any more damage is done."