Yonkers to lay off 251 teachers and staff

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Yonkers plans to lay off more than 250 teachers and other staff members at the end of school year if it can't come up with more school funding.

Earlier this week, the Board of Education approved 251 layoffs in order to balance the budget. Parents say they are hoping the city and the teachers' unions can reach an agreement that will avoid the layoffs.

Unlike the rest of Westchester's school districts, the budget in Yonkers is combined with that of the city.

Mayor Mike Spano says his proposed $547.7 million for the school district is the largest contribution to the Department of Education in the city's history. But school officials say it's not enough to cover a budget shortfall of more than $45 million due to higher enrollment, salaries and benefits.

Spano says he won't ask taxpayers to break the 2 percent property tax raise cap unless the labor unions make concessions.

Samantha Rosado-Ciriello, president of the Yonkers Federation of Teachers, says her union represents 112 staffers who are among those facing layoffs. That number includes 54 teaching assistants and 14 guidance counselors.

She says the union has made concessions for two years in a row and doesn't plan to give up more.

"We doubled our health care contribution," she says. "Everybody knew we'd be in a financial crisis this year...We negotiated in good faith and gave back."

The school layoffs would take effect June 30, which is the end of the city's fiscal year.

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