School & District Management

Rochester, N.Y., Mayor Wants Control of Schools

By Dakarai I. Aarons — December 29, 2009 1 min read

Bob Dufffy, the mayor of Rochester, N.Y., has joined the chorus of mayors across the country who want more control over their cities’ schools.

Duffy, in a recent letter to the superintendent and school board president, said he believed such an arrangement was necessary. The mayor said he was not taking the stance to inflame anyone or point fingers, but because he believes consolidating the district with the city government is necessary for financial reasons and to bring wraparound services to students.

Duffy told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle that he would want Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard to stay on under a four-year trial period, in which the district would become a city department.

Brizard has not yet commented on the mayor’s plan, but asked for community support for the district’s new strategic plan, which includes closing low-performing schools, in a guest column in Sunday’s Democrat and Chronicle.

Mayoral control in Rochester would require approval of the state legislature. Adam Urbanski, the president of the local teacher’s union, said the organization would fight any such effort.

Rochester isn’t alone. As I reported earlier this fall, efforts are under way in Detroit and Milwaukee to institute mayoral control, spurred by frustration over sometimes glacial academic progress.

Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (who is running to replace Doyle) have been unsuccessful so far in their attempts to get the state legislature to pass a mayoral control bill, most recently in a special session two weeks ago. Barrett is still pushing forward, and the state senate’s education committee is holding a hearing on the issue Jan. 5.

In Detroit, Emergency Financial Manager Robert C. Bobb recently asked for academic control of the schools. He and others have expressed support for Mayor Dave Bing having a say in how the schools are run. The Michigan House will take up the issue in a series of hearings starting Jan. 14.

For more on mayoral control, check out this excellent story my colleague (and former fellow District Dossier blogger) Lesli A. Maxwell wrote about the status of mayoral control for our Leading For Learning report on school governance.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.