Yonkers Officials Denounce Decision Supporting Mayoral Control Of Schools

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Spano responded to the many statements with his own on his Facebook page Friday afternoon, demanding any dissidents put alternative plans on the table immediately.
Spano responded to the many statements with his own on his Facebook page Friday afternoon, demanding any dissidents put alternative plans on the table immediately. Photo Credit: File

YONKERS, N.Y. -- The New York State Senate Majority Coalition budget resolution Friday to continue exploring mayoral control of the Yonkers Public School System has state and local officials in an uproar.

Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano introduced the idea of mayoral control of the school district in January after former superintendent Bernard Pierorazio announced a major deficit along with his retirement.

According to the district, the estimated deficits of $45.5 million over the past two years, along with the anticipated budget gap for the 2014-15 school year of $73.5 million, add up to a staggering $119 million potential budgetary shortfall.

However, a number of Democrat public officials, along with the Yonkers Federation of Teachers (YFT),  responded in dismay to what they interpret to be Spano's lack of consultation of community stakeholders in favor of "backroom politics."

"As the two senators who represent the City of Yonkers, we were not consulted and were surprised that the Majority Coalition advanced mayoral control without giving the community, parents and stakeholders an opportunity to be part of the process," Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers, and Sen. George Latimer, D-Rye, said in a statement.

The YFT released a statement Friday, saying the State Senate Majority Coalition, made up of Republicans and Independent Democrats, has betrayed the children of Yonkers.

"The many PTA and Town Hall meetings held by our representatives, attended by our parents, our teachers and our community members, repeatedly sent a clear message of 'leave politics out of our schools,' " President Pat Puleo stated. "Every school district in Westchester has an elected Board of Education. Why doesn't Yonkers?"

Spano responded to the outcry on his Facebook page Friday afternoon, demanding any dissidents put alternative plans on the table immediately.

"The students of Yonkers can't afford more talk, they need action," he stated. "Taxpayers simply cannot be expected to fund a half a billion dollar school system without oversight. ... The status quo is what has put the City of Yonkers and our children in peril, and we cannot allow for this to happen again. It’s time for legislative leaders to embrace real reform."

Members of the Yonkers Democratic Caucus additionally called for increased transparency.

Councilman Christopher Johnson stated: "Backroom dealing is not how government should operate. Secretive negotiations that do not include community stakeholders are the reason the public is losing trust."

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Mayor Spano seems to have some great sound bites. Lets see the forest past the trees folks. There is no reason that this has to be done right now. The city needs to work with its constituents and YONKERS representatives to come up with a solution that will work. Change does NOT equal Control. This two step around the parties it affects, Parents, teachers and administrators, reminds us that he does NOT care about the citizens that live here. I may have to vote the other way next time.

I guess Mayor Spano has responded to this allegation he's acting alone: "Over the last 6 weeks, I have met with the Governor's Office and all legislative leaders about the needs of Yonkers." He said if legislative leaders have an alternate plan they need to "put it on the table now." I agree. As a Yonkers resident with family members attending Yonkers public schools, we need some real action on this.

Okay so I'm going to turn my earlier comment around. As a Yonkers resident why DON'T I want the Mayor taking responsibility for fixing the fiscal mess Yonkers' school system is in?

Action and some reform. I agree. However, control is not the same as change. Involving politics in our schools is tricky. We aren't naive, favors and family equals jobs and more favors. The city provides .36 cents per tax dollar to schools. $250 million (approx) come from the city and the other over $250 million (approx) from the STATE. It's something we can track - for now. In the past, Mayor's have "borrowed" money from the Yonkers Public Schools and NOT given the money back. The schools in this district are overcrowded and literally crumbling and they have lost things like music, art, sports, library and language. They have only the basics in most buildings. There is no way YPS can afford any mayor, this one or the next, to have the ability to "borrow" money unbeknownst to the taxpayers and we definitely don't need any more politics in the school system. Oversight, input - great. Control - no good. While he "addressed" the issue of acting "alone", the people he colluded with were NOT Yonkers representatives. They do not know the history of Yonkers nor do they care because they don't live here. They do not need to deal with the outcome. If he wants control, he should do it the right way. Get support from the constituents it AFFECTS, not the neighbors in Private School that have no clue about how/why this is a bad idea.

If the people of Yonkers allow the Mayor Mike Spano to take control of their schools, expect to see the failure rate of students to increase substantially, and for hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to be misappropriated, just as is happening in Mount Vernon, with their Mayor Ernie Davis running the schools, right into the ground.

nothing the Spano boys do surprises me any more-but that doesnt mean they should be able to get away with it-bravo Ms. Cousins

I don't have a problem with the Mayor being in charge per se, but not consulting with the two state senators plus parents and teachers is absolutely the worst possible way to go about it.

I'm suspicious. Mayor Spano tell me why I want you in charge. I'm willing to listen.

I OPPOSE MAYORAL CONTROL OVER THE SCHOOLS IN THE CITY OF YONKERS. TOO MUCH POWER IN ONE PLACE IS NOT GOOD, ESPECIALLY WHEN OTHER RESPONSIBILITIES TO THE PUBLIC ARE ALREADY LEFT UN DONE. BACK ROOM POLITICS IS OUT AND MORE TRANSPARENCY IN.