YONKERS, N.Y. – An innovative partnership between private investment and public schools in Yonkers is earning global recognition.
Yonkers Public Schools Public-Private Partnership, also known as P3, has been named one of the world’s 100 most innovative urban infrastructure projects by KPMG Global Infrastructure.
The $1.7 billion project, described as “gutsy” by one of the KPMG judges, will involve the upgrade of 38 Yonkers schools through the use of private investment funds. Investors' returns would be paid with future tax revenue.
It is the first social infrastructure public-private partnership for a public school district in the United States.
The “project is truly unique in the United States, and if implemented correctly, could be a real pathfinder for American education in an era of increasingly constrained public finances,” KPMG said in a statement.
The 15-year plan, which includes building a new Gorton High School, is meant to address the declining condition of many city schools. Nearly all the buildings in the Yonkers School District have been deemed “unsatisfactory” by New York state, which cited problems with lighting, ventilation and size.
The schools are also some of the oldest in the state at an average age of 73 years, administrators said. Nine district buildings are more than 95 years old, and the oldest is 117.
Superintendent of schools Bernard P. Pierorazio said he is optimistic the P3 plan will provide the district with an affordable solution to its capital improvement problems and growing student body.
“We are in the business of educating children, not managing facilities,” he said in a statement. “The P3 allows us to transfer the responsibility of building management to the private sector, who can do it more efficiently and, frankly, more effectively. In turn, we can concentrate on what we do best — preparing students to achieve.”
In March, Yonkers Public Schools completed the initial step of the P3 project, selecting a team of advisers. The hope is the public-private model will allow private partners to make the renovations and updates necessary to deter emergency situations, while providing Yonkers with innovative advancements.
“The P3 model is a viable solution to the ongoing financial constraints that have limited our ability to provide our students with the modern, well-maintained learning environments they deserve,” Yonkers Board of Education President Paresh Patel said in a statement.