YONKERS, NY — Mayor Mike Spano unveiled plans today for his new Yonkers Education Redesign Team (ERT), which is tasked to recommend innovative reforms to the Yonkers Public School System. The team, consisting of stakeholders representing government, education, business, labor and parents, will begin its work by conducting a comprehensive assessment of the administrative functions of the Yonkers Board of Education (BOE) and the City of Yonkers (City). They will make meaningful suggestions on opportunities for intra-governmental efficiencies to enable BOE to enhance its focus on academic performance while minimizing its costs for non-academic functions.
Mayor Spano announced that Deputy Mayor Sue Gerry will lead the charge for the ERT, assembling the Team's members and outlining the Mayor's priorities, as well as the ERT's short and long-range goals. The initial objective of the Team is to search out opportunities for shared services between the BOE and the City which can be implemented in the upcoming budget and which will maximize overall efficiency in the delivery of services as the first step towards reducing costs.
"Education is a top priority for my administration," said Mayor Spano. "In order to truly evaluate how we approach education in Yonkers, we must first tackle governmental redundancies and inefficiencies in both city government and the Board of Education. Then we need to explore and implement a plan to consolidate and reduce costs where possible. From there, the focus will be on providing the best services for the children, rebuilding the aging infrastructure and improving the quality of education to the levels of which we all can be proud."
"The public schools are a bell-weather for the community — simply stated, as the schools go, the community goes," stated Superintendent of Schools Bernard P. Pierorazio. "Mayor Spano's establishment of the Educational Redesign Team is the first step in ensuring the citizens of our city that education will in fact be the number one priority. Administrative savings by developing efficiencies and ending redundancies will allow the education dollars to flow to the classroom where they are most needed."
Serving in a volunteer capacity, the ERT is comprised of individuals from diverse backgrounds in the areas of education, private sector business and finance, government administration, as well as local community leaders.
The Team is comprised of 15 members, which include:
· Susan Gerry (Chair) – Deputy Mayor
· Michael Sabatino – Yonkers City Councilmember (3rd District)
· Carl Petrillo – Yonkers Contracting Company, Inc., President
· John Jacono – current Councilmember, Purchase College; former teacher, principal and acting superintendent of schools (Greenburgh – North Castle); former Yonkers Councilmember
· Wendy Nadel – Yonkers Partners in Education, Executive Director
· Dr. Elliot Palais – Fordham University, Professor & TRIO Director; former Yonkers Councilmember · Kelly Chiarella – Westchester/East Putman PTA, Region Director
· Carmine DiBattista – DiBattista & Associates Marketing Consultants, President
· Debra Martinez – Former Board of Education member; DM Associates, CEO
· Kevin Cacace – Yonkers Chamber of Commerce, President
· Stephanie Otero – Gloeckner & Company, Controller
· Susan Guma – Sarah Lawrence College, Dean of Graduate Studies
· Annmarie Smith – Yonkers Council of PTA, President
· Dr. Jim Bostic – Nepperhan Community Center, Inc., Executive Director
· Louise Bolduc – Westchester School for Special Children, Director of Pupil and Personnel Services
· Nader Sayegh, Andalusia School Superintendent, also will serve as the Mayor's Special Assistant and will help to guide the Mayor's priorities relating to education reform.
"We've gathered, what we believe, to be a knowledgeable and diverse group of individuals who have a vested interest in our children and schools," added Spano. "They possess a vast spectrum of experience in areas necessary to examine and evaluate how the Yonkers Public Schools function, both as an administrative unit of the City and as an independent educational system. I look forward to receiving their feedback and implementing any and all suggestions that enable us to focus our resources on our kids again."
In its initial phase, the ERT will seek to identify immediate cost-efficiencies through the merger of non-academic functions of the BOE and the City. Such redundancies to be examined include Human Resources, Purchasing, Payroll, and Utilities/Energy, Legal and Capital Budget Planning and implementation. Final recommendations for this initial phase will be submitted for review by June, in time for the upcoming budget year. Deputy Mayor Gerry and ERT will first undertake State funding, including outreach to the New York State Department of Education, Legislature, and Governor Cuomo's office, with the goal of exploring grant opportunities and maximizing dollars for the restoration of discontinued programs, such as sports and after-school programs.
The next phase of the Education Redesign Team is to pursue the public and private funding opportunities identified in Phase I. They will examine the best practices of high-performing school districts in mid-sized cities in New York State and nationally with the goal of identifying innovative, cost-effective strategies for more long-range reform of the BOE structure, operations and educational model. The Team will explore advanced technologies and volunteer opportunities to better enhance the learning experience of the students without major impact on the BOE's budget.
Additionally, the ERT will explore opportunities for bringing a State University of New York (SUNY) campus to Yonkers. Mayor Spano looks to maintain the Education Redesign Team on an on-going, multi-year venture, recomposing the Team with each new phase to best align members with evolving goals. The Team will hold its kick-off meeting today at City Hall.
SOURCE: Yonkers City Hall Communications Office