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Yonkers Officials, Residents Push State For School Rebuilding Legislation

Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano, at podium, speaks at a rally for a schools rebuilding project in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. Academy Wednesday morning. Photo Credit: Michael Spano/Facebook
Students at the Martin Luther King Jr. Academy hold signs Wednesday supporting legislation that would approve the first phase of a schools rebuilding project. Photo Credit: Mike Spano/Facebook
Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano meets students at the Martin Luther King Jr. Academy on Wednesday. Photo Credit: Mike Spano/Facebook

YONKERS, N.Y. -- Yonkers officials, students, parents and teachers rallied last week for a $2 billion borrowing plan that would fix up the city’s aging schools and build three new ones.

Mayor Mike Spano, who has been pushing the bond issue, led the demonstration under cloudy skies Wednesday in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. Academy, according to his spokeswoman, Christina Gilmartin.

The original plan was to get the borrowing plan into the state’s current $145 billion budget failed, so Spano is pursuing “a parallel track,” Gilmartin said.

The city is fighting to get legislation that would approve the bonding process passed before the state Senate and Assembly sessions wrap up next month, Gilmartin said.

The bill, said Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer, who introduced it in the Assembly last week, only covers Phase 1, or $535 million, of the overall plan.

That chunk of money would cover the building of three schools and the renovation of some of the district's 39 schools, she said.

It is the governor's office and the state budget division that say whether the process goes forward or not, Mayer said.

The legislators, she added, "don't control the money."

Each part of the $2 billion four-phase plan has to go through the same procedure with the state, said Mayer, a Yonkers native.

The plan is expected to take about 13 years to complete, if all goes well at the state level, Gilmartin said.

State Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Yonkers resident, introduced the bill in the Senate on Tuesday.

The five largest school districts in New York state are, in size order: New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers, and Syracuse.

Outside of New York City, Yonkers’ is the only school district whose bonding plan has not been approved, Gilmartin said Wednesday.

“It’s Yonkers’ turn now,” she said.

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