Reporting Lou Young
YONKERS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Yonkers public schools played host to a pink slip blizzard on Friday, with 700 employees losing their jobs.
The district made the cuts in the face of a $42 million budget gap, reports CBS 2′s Lou Young.
The district also announced that extracurricular activities and interscholastic athletic programs would be cut, and the pre-kindergarten program would be eliminated. Transportation services for students will also be subject to reductions.
WCBS 880′s Catherine Cioffi has more on the Yonkers school jobs crunch.
“My son is due to start pre-K in September,” mother Noreen Cavanaugh said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do. He needs school; he needs to learn.”
“It means my daughter is going to be short-changed,” mother Maria Chiulli-Neglia said. “She’s not going to get the same services my son had.”
Yonkers public schools have already been hit hard. They lost half of their art, music and physical education last year after 400 layoffs.
The school district blamed the layoffs on cuts in federal and state aid, little support from the city, and an increase of more than $40 million in expenses.
The state froze school funding in Yonkers three years ago, but enrollment continues to climb. State funding is calculated on average property values and downstate incomes that make gritty urban centers look more prosperous than they really are.
“On paper, we’re rich, and I think that’s the essence of the problem,” Schools Superintendent Bernard Pierorazio said. “Basically, we have almost a 70 percent poverty rate, students on free and reduced lunches here in an affluent community, and it’s not being recognized.”
The mayor of Yonkers said he’s so desperate that he’s trying to wrangle a $20 million, one-time cash fix by restructuring debt. He also asked unions to come with additional give-backs.
“You meet us halfway, and we can save most – if not all – of these jobs,” Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone said. “So far, I haven’t seen any movement.”
Even if the mayor and the unions come up with another $30 million in the next month, Yonkers school officials said they’ll still find themselves in the same position next year – unless the funding formula is changed in Albany.