ALBANY – The Yonkers school district will get a $25 million state bailout to avoid layoffs and program cuts, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday.
While Yonkers schools will get a bailout, another measure to help Yonkers did not make it into the final legislative package that was set for approval late Thursday. The Yonkers delegation introduced a bill to let the city increase its sales taxby half a percentage point, with the estimated $15 million annual boost reserved for the school system.
The $25 million school bailout was initially expected to be part of a $100 million statewide fund for struggling schools outside New York City. While the fund wasn’t included in the final legislative agreement this week, Cuomo said Yonkers will still get the additional state aid.
The change must now be approved by the state Legislature, including a Republican-led Senate that has been reluctant to allow tax increases.
Previous coverage : State money to prevent massive school cuts
As part of the bailout agreement, the Yonkers school system will have to provide a financial plan that “provides for continuity of current educational services,” according to the bill. Cuomo’s budget director will have final approval over the plan.
“In this agreement, the Yonkers school district will receive, I believe, $25 million to resolve this year’s financial gap,” Cuomo told reporters at the Capitol. “The city will then need to restructure, because this is not on a recurring basis.”
Cuomo visited Yonkers on June 14 to announce the state’s help to the district, which threatened to have 100 layoffs and the eliminate its athletics program. The district said it had a $26 million deficit for the fiscal year that starts July 1.
The state aid for Yonkers is the latest bailout from Albany.
Last year, the state gave the district a $28 million infusion of cash after a $55 million accounting error left the schools in fiscal turmoil. In 2011-12 fiscal year, Yonkers received a $28 million state boost — which the district then inaccurately included as recurring aid in subsequent budgets, which largely caused the future gaps.
This year, the state budget approved April 1 included the 8 percent school-aid increase and another $2 million in aid for the district.
Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer, D-Yonkers, said she was pleased the money for the school system was ultimately included in the agreement. But she said something needs to be done to ensure the school can remain fiscally solvent in future years, such as the sales-tax plan.
“We’re very pleased that it appears the money for Yonkers is in the bill,” Mayer said. “We continue to push for the sales tax. We think it’s important in the long term.”
Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said the advocacy of the city and its school supporters helped win support for the state aid. He said, though, the city has to try to limit its deficits in the future.
“We are going to make every effort for us to stabilize the city and its finances on our own,” Spano said. “We’ve been doing it, and hopefully we can continue to do it.”