Yonkers' Search For Classroom Space Leads To Archdiocese

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Classroom space is at a premium in Yonkers and officials said they are in talks with the Archdiocese of New York in an attempt to find additional buildings.
Classroom space is at a premium in Yonkers and officials said they are in talks with the Archdiocese of New York in an attempt to find additional buildings. Photo Credit: Flickr user Editor B

YONKERS, N.Y. – With enrollment climbing and classroom space at a premium, Yonkers school administrators continue to look outside the district for some much-needed relief.

Superintendent of Schools Bernard Pierorazio said this week the district is currently in talks with the Archdiocese of New York, hoping it may have extra buildings Yonkers could use to relieve its overcrowded classrooms.

“Because of our growth we don’t not have room in our regular buildings at this point in time,” Pierorazio said Tuesday at the Board of Education’s Audit, Budget and Finance Committee meeting.

Currently, there are more than 26,000 students are enrolled in the district for the 2012-2013 school year, nearly 1,000 more than last year.  The increase in enrollment continues a recent trend for district, which has seen its numbers climb steadily over the past four years, when enrollment was just over 24,000.

In August, administrators attributed the recent spike in student numbers to a resurgence of confidence in the district as well as a lackluster economy and the closure of various parochial schools in the area.

Pierorazio said Tuesday the district is currently short between 3,000 and 5,000 seats.  To try and accommodate students, the district had previously discussed a plan to lease Christ the King, a shuttered Roman Catholic school at 740 N. Broadway.

In the meantime, school officials have been scrambling to find space in the existing buildings, especially at the lower grade levels where class sizes have reached up to 30 students.  A handful of elementary school libraries have even been converted into classrooms.

“We have students in classrooms that were not designed to be classrooms,” Pierorazio said. “Our teachers do a wonderful job and our students are still learning but we need to make sure that we have an appropriate environment for our children in terms of their learning process.”

Without help, that may be even more difficult in the upcoming school year.

Early projections have suggested nearly 1,300 additional students will join Yonkers schools in September, Pierorazio said Tuesday.  Even after the normal summer attrition, the district will likely see hundreds more students walking through the hallways. 

“That’s a significant increase year to year,” Pierorazio said.

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Until the students are tested, they may not know the ESOL needs.

And what about St. Denis on McLean and Lawrence? That is in the smack of SW Yonkers, the section from which our largest percentage of students come. That would be a natural.

But not one, single, open ELA job in the entire city, per the YBOE website yesterday?