At a joint press conference in Yonkers today, Bill Mooney, President and CEO of the Westchester County Association announced the WCA’s support of Mayor Mike Spano's bold $2 billion redevelopment plan to rebuild and renovate all 39 schools in the City of Yonkers in order to create a modern, healthy learning environment for the city’s students. Mike Spano, Mayor of the City of Yonkers, embarked on the “Rebuild Yonkers Schools” campaign in response to the school’s aging and crumbling infrastructure and overcrowded classrooms, some of which have been carved out of unused closet and basement space. Nine of the district’s schools are over 100 years old, and many others are over 75.
Bill Mooney, President, CEO, WCA
"Great schools that produce educated kids are critical to Westchester's and the region's economic vitality," said Mooney. "We must fill the talent pipeline for today's booming tech and life sciences sectors, and for tomorrow's jobs. There is an incredible demand for an educated and skilled workforce."
Two days before the press conference, Mayor Spano was the featured speaker at a meeting of the WCA’s Blueprint for Advocacy Committee at which he described his struggle to get financial support from New York State and to push the state to change its reimbursement policy.
“Yonkers cannot afford the cost of rebuilding all of our schools; we cannot do this alone. We are proposing the 13-year $2 billion plan to rebuild the entire school district, for the next five generations to come."
He emphasized that just to repair the schools would cost as much as $700 million. "We would like the state to do what they did for Buffalo where they rebuilt every school, and for Rochester and Syracuse, where they are rebuilding the schools. We need to get away from that upstate/downstate mindset.”
Spano pointed out that the upstate school districts are shrinking, where Yonkers’ is expanding, all the more reason to invest in the city. He estimated that the project would create 3400 construction jobs during the height of the construction, and 34,000 jobs ultimately.
Smart Growth The WCA recently embarked on a Smart Growth campaign, driven by the private sector, and geared to help revitalize cities like Yonkers, New Rochelle, White Plains and Mt. Vernon.
“Investing in our local schools and working to attract millennials and businesses that are being priced out of New York City are crucial to Smart Growth here,” noted Richard Wishnie, Chairman of the WCA’s Blueprint for Advocacy Committee.
He added: “We want to groom talent in New York State, and we want to keep talent in New York State. If we do that, it means more business will remain here -- where the economic growth is taking place."
Mooney emphasized that the entire business community is calling upon Albany to invest in the region's future and to do the right thing. "The smart choice is also the right choice: Albany needs to invest in redeveloping Yonkers public schools. We're in full support of the plan."