It’s time for Albany to commit to rebuilding Yonkers’ crumbling schools

Consensus is rarely achieved in the City of Yonkers. About anything.

But there is one thing about which virtually everyone agrees: The city’s 39 public school buildings are over-crowded and falling apart — and need to be rebuilt and expanded.

There’s no other side of the coin. Who could reasonably defend having students trying to learn in makeshift basement classrooms where temperatures rise into the swampy mid-80s?

During a recent meeting with the editorial board, Interim Schools Superintendent Edwin M. Quezada laughed about the state’s push toward computerized testing. “We need access to electricity,” he said.

So the city’s schools need a major overhaul. The problem is that city and state officials have known this for years and nothing has happened. Why? This is a project that would cost about $2 billion. When you’re talking about that kind of money, it’s not unreasonable that even well-intentioned officials might say “We’ll get to that…soon.”

But the time for waiting is over. Albany and Yonkers must come to terms this year, preferably during the current legislative session, on a plan for scheduling and financing the Great Yonkers Schools Rebuild. There are several fundamental reasons why the time to act is now:

1. The average age of the school buildings is 75. Most schools need major structural renovations. The city and state are now wasting tens of millions of dollars each year on plugging holes and keeping ancient systems alive.

2. There’s no place to put the kids. The schools are 4,100 students over capacity, and are expected to add 250-300 students a year for several years. Classrooms are now set up in basements, storage rooms and auditoriums.

3. The state has already helped Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse — New York’s other “big 4” urban school systems, not counting New York City — to rebuild their schools, with Albany picking up almost the entire tabs.

4. New York’s budget is healthy, and the state has collected billions from major settlements.

If not now, when?

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