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Full-Day Pre-K, Sports Likely Out Another Year In Yonkers

Reinstating sports, full-day prekindergarten in Yonkers may not be realized in the upcoming year.
Reinstating sports, full-day prekindergarten in Yonkers may not be realized in the upcoming year. Photo Credit: File

YONKERS, N.Y. – Yonkers Public Schools is poised to go yet another year without various  sports programs and full day prekindergarten.

Currently, the district is set to come up about $7.5 million short in its goal to have a restorative budget, Superintendent of Schools Bernard Pierorazio said at a recent Board of Education meeting.

That means, based upon Mayor Mike Spano’s 2014 executive budget proposal, the goal of having full-day prekindergarten and junior varsity and modified sports will likely not be realized.

“I know that you have given me the task to reinstate but with the funding in the executive budget we cannot do it,” Pierorazio told trustees.

In March, the superintendent said he was working on preparing a $536 million budget , returning prekindergarten programs to a full day, adding pupil support staff, including guidance counselors to all the high schools, and bringing athletic programs “up to par.”

Days later, Spano presented his executive budget proposal , a plan that dedicates nearly $530 million to city schools, including $225 million in state aid. That is an increase of $17 million from the previous year.

Spano’s spending plan is now being reviewed by the City Council, which must approve a budget by June 1.

“It’s not exactly where we want to be,” the mayor said at the time. “We are trying to do more but in the confines of the situation we are in.”

Last week, while presenting his revised budget for the first time since the mayor released his spending plan, Pierorazio said the increase in aid will allow the district to add a full staff of eight high school guidance counselors.

But administrators say it’s not enough to meet their other needs. Reinstating prekindergarten would likely require an additional $4.3 million, Pierorazio said, while the district would need as much as $7.5 million to add sports programs.

Hope for full day prekindergarten, which has been a priority of the superintendent’s since the district was forced to cut its program in 2011, may now rest with the state.

Yonkers will pursue a piece of a $25 million pot set aside by state lawmakers for prekindergarten grants.  However, New York City schools typically get about 80 percent of funding in these types of grant programs, Pierorazio said, leaving the rest of the “Big 5” to split the rest.

“It’s not a lot of money,” he said.

For the time being, Pierorazio said the district will likely work with the City Council to see if any additional money can be dedicated to the schools before a budget is finalized this summer.

“We definitely work with our mayor but we always have the option of working with the city council to see if they can free up additional dollars,” he said.

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