Photo Courtesy of Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office
Mayor de Blasio could lose control of City schools by the end of the month.
By Michael V. Cusenza
With a June 21 deadline hovering, Mayor Bill de Blasio and State Senate Republicans this week continued to spar over mayoral control of City Schools.
Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan has reportedly offered one-, two-, and even five-year extensions of control, but the deals come with demands, including tuition tax credits for private and parochial schools in the five boroughs and lifting the charter school cap.
De Blasio has said that State lawmakers should hand over the reins to City schools sans negotiations. The Assembly, led by a Democratic majority, has already passed a bill granting the mayor a two-year extension.
With less than two weeks to go in the Albany legislative session, a return to the pre-2002 Board of Education days looms; and proponents of mayoral control have said that’s not an era the City school system – and parents and teachers – need to revisit.
“Our kids should be above politics. Their futures can’t be treated as pawns in a political game. And the largest school system in the nation shouldn’t be used as legislative leverage. That’s why Albany must immediately reauthorize mayoral control. The question is whether it’s the right thing or wrong thing to do, and there is no doubt that extending mayoral control is to everyone’s benefit,” said City Comptroller Scott Stringer. “I can assure Albany of two things. First, we are doing everything we can to watch the dollars and cents and hold the [Department of Education] accountable. Second, going back in time to a pre-mayoral control system would be disastrous. Our kids would lose out and our schools would be in chaos.”
The State Legislature has passed bills granting mayoral control to de Blasio for one-year terms since he took office in 2014.
“We’ve tried to be aware that the Senate, I believe vindictively does not want to treat our schools the way they treat schools in the districts they represent,” said Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan (D-Long Island City), chairwoman of the Assembly Education Committee. “It’s very unfortunate, but I still think in the end we’ll have mayoral control. If it has to be a shorter time period, in the end Mayor de Blasio, [Schools Chancellor] Carmen [Fariña] and the team have demonstrated the improvements that have happened under mayoral control. I really believe that the Senate Republicans in the end will vote to extend mayoral control. It may not be as long as we would like, but in the end the mayor keeps giving them the information that they want and keeps explaining why it’s working and I think [Assembly] Speaker [Carl] Heastie has made it very clear it’s the number one priority for our majority, so I’m also optimistic.”