image of 3-21-24 press conference

White Plains, NY — Today, the Westchester County Board of Legislators held a press conference at 148 Martine Avenue to oppose proposed cuts to Foundation Aid reflected in the State Executive Budget, following a letter to Hon. Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Chair Vedat Gashi (D - New Castle, Ossining, Somers, Yorktown) said, “We are facing some tough decisions, and our children are at the forefront of our minds. They are the future of our community, and it is our responsibility to ensure that they receive the best education possible. As a parent of young children, I am disappointed by the proposed cuts to Foundation Aid funding in the state executive budget. Teachers, school administrators, and staff work tirelessly to provide our children a safe and effective learning environment. They need our support. This decision will impact all of us as parents, family members, and stakeholders vested in our community's future.”

The letter, signed by all 17 members of the Board of Legislators, stated, “The proposed changes to the formula would result in a staggering $20 million reduction in funding across the 40 public school districts in Westchester County that receive Foundation Aid. These changes would include a 30% cut to Foundation Aid, or $1.5 million, for the Bedford Central School District; a 19% cut, or $682 thousand, for the Harrison Central School District; and a 9.7% cut, or $775 thousand, for the Mamaroneck Union Free School District. Students in our poorest cities would also experience these cuts: Yonkers would lose $3.9 million and Mt Vernon $2.9 million. Because of the Tax Cap, school districts across Westchester will be unable to replace this lost revenue.” Read the full letter here.

Speakers at today’s press conference included State Senator Shelley Mayer, President of the White Plains Teachers' Association Kara McCormick-Lyons, President of the Yonkers Federation of Teachers Samantha Rosado-Ciriello, President of the Greenburgh Teachers' Federation James Bell, and Superintendent of Bedford Schools Dr. Robert Glass.

In addition, Legislator Erika Pierce (D-Bedford, Lewisboro, Mount Kisco, North Salem, Pound Ridge, Somers), Legislator Emiljana Ulaj (D-Cortlandt, Ossining, Croton, Briarcliff, Buchanan), Vice Chair Jose Alvarado (Yonkers), Legislator Judah Holstein (D-Eastchester, New Rochelle, Tuckahoe), Minority Whip James Nolan (R-Yonkers, Eastchester, Bronxville), Legislator David Tubiolo (D-Yonkers, Mount Vernon), Legislator Shanae Williams (D-Yonkers), Legislator Catherine Parker (D-Larchmont, Mamaroneck, Rye), and Legislator Jewel Williams Johnson (D-Elmsford, Greenburgh, Tarrytown, White Plains) attended and emphasized their support through their respective statements.

Legislator Erika Pierce said, “We are here to raise our voices in strong opposition to the proposed cuts to Foundation Aid Funding in the Executive Budget. In the Bedford School District over 30% of their aid will be wiped away with the proposed cut. This is not just a number on a spreadsheet. It’s a loss of jobs and access to teachers and support services for every single student, including our most vulnerable students.”

Legislator Emiljana Ulaj said, “Public schools and public education are the backbone of democracy. Public schools are the pillars that hold up everything else: paths to opportunity, self-actualization, and breaking cycles of poverty. The Foundation Aid cuts in the Executive Budget proposal are a betrayal to our school districts. We urge our Westchester State Delegation to stand strong in their negotiations to ensure cuts are fully reinstated in the final budget. Thank you to Board Chair Vedat Gashi and all our colleagues for unanimously signing on to this letter urging Governor Kathy Hochul to reinstate the school cuts in the Executive Budget proposal.”

View and download a recording of the event here: