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Education Issues Discussed At Yonkers Forum On State Budget

NYS Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer and NYS Senator George Latimer host a community budget hearing.
NYS Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer and NYS Senator George Latimer host a community budget hearing. Photo Credit: Marcello Figueroa

YONKERS, N.Y. — State Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer and State Sen. George Latimer held a community budget forum at the Grinton I. Will Branch of the Yonkers Public Library on Tuesday evening.

Community members and residents signed up to speak and were allowed four minutes each to speak about the proposed 2015-16 budget.

Yonkers City Councilman Mike Breen spoke for the need of  funding for the city's public schools.

Francoise Butrico, Yonkers resident said, "If you look at the property that is for sale in Westchester most of it is in Yonkers." Butrico voiced her concerns that children need their education but, the older people can't retire here in Yonkers. "The middle class is working hard for less money," she said. In conclusion Butrico asked a question,"Where is the money going that is coming in from Empire Casino?"

Michael Groarke, president of the Bedford Teachers Association referenced Governor Cuomo's proposed budget to a hostile takeover. "Governor Cuomo just wants to control and then manipulate all of the data and make the public schools look bad," said Groarke.

Marc Pekowsky is a music teacher in the Yonkers Public Schools and is a Board of Education member in the Mahopac Central School District. "Yonkers Public Schools are in severe shortage, help us bring these needs back," said Pekowsky.

Pat Puleo, president of the Yonkers Federation of Teachers explained that teachers have no problem being evaluated and that Yonkers Public School teachers are evaluated ten times a year. "There are observations and we are always being evaluated, we just want a fairer evaluation. We need you to fight for us. Out of $550 million, $500 million goes to New York City Schools and $50 million goes to Westchester," said Puleo.

The theme of the night was the concern for the education bill. However, other issues were raised.

Yonkers resident Monica Gale's concern was for renters and the unnecessary cost of raising rent every year for costs like changing windows, and replacement of the garbage cans. She expressed her concern that nothing was being done about it. Mayer explained that rent stabilization terms will be expiring in June and that Gale's concerns will be addressed at that time.

The state budget deadline is March 31.

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