WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) _ The Yonkers Board of Education claimed in court papers Wednesday that the state has been underfunding the city's schools by tens of millions of dollars every year.
In a lawsuit filed in state Supreme Court in White Plains, the board and a coalition of parents' groups charged that state aid is inadequate and is unequal compared to aid for Syracuse, Buffalo and Rochester.
A successful lawsuit could help Yonkers avoid its yearly battle to close the school budget _ and the layoffs and cutbacks that often accompany it.
The board's attorney in the case, Peter John Sacripanti, said in a news release that in the current school year, the state gave $10,658 per pupil to Buffalo, $10,046 to Rochester and $9,268 to Syracuse but only $6,198 per pupil to Yonkers. He said funding equal to Syracuse would have meant $80 million more.
"Yonkers children deserve to be treated fairly and equally with the children in these other cities," Sacripanti said. "But they are not."
Juanita Scarlett, of the state attorney general's office, which defends the state, said, "We will review the lawsuit and consult with our client."
The lawsuit echoes a successful case brought more than a decade ago by the nonprofit Campaign for Fiscal Equity claiming New York City schools were underfunded and demanding a new formula to determine state aid. The state eventually was ordered to pay $5.63 billion more to the city, but the state is appealing.
Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone said the underfunding problem should have been solved years ago.
"It is unfortunate it has come to this, but this action is necessary to finally correct a bad formula and properly fund the education of our children," he said.