New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will continue to control the nation’s largest system, but the one-year extension he got from the state legislature comes with additional strings attached.
De Blasio had sought a three-year extension, but Republican state senators earlier this month introduced a bill that stuck to one year, added the position of an appointed education “inspector,” and included a host of additional reporting requirements. Assembly Democrats had proposed an alternative measure that would have allowed mayoral control to continue for three more years. (The current authorization is set to expire at the end of June.)
The agreement reached on Friday did not include the “inspector” provision, but contained requirements that the city publish spending and budgets for its “community school districts” on its website and make such information available to parents and the public. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office said that the deal will demand “greater transparency” from the city’s Education Department.
The deal will also allow “high-performing” charter schools to choose their charter authorizers. They can decide to stay with the city’s Education Department or become part of the State University of New York or the Board of Regents systems.
In a statement, Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said the change will give charter schools flexibility that will “improve educational opportunities” for students across the state.
On mayoral control, he said:
“Meanwhile, we believe that a one-year extension of mayoral control with reforms that require school-by-school budget data to promote greater fiscal transparency is in the best interest of students and their parents. This debate has always been about ensuring that schoolchildren in New York City receive a first-class education that prepares them for the rest of their lives, and this agreement moves us closer to that goal.”
The city’s schools have been run by the mayor since 2002, when former Republican Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg convinced the state legislature to grant him the authority to do so. This is the second year in a row that Senate Republicans have rebuffed de Blasio’s mayoral control requests.
The end-of-year packages passed by the legislature also included requirements that schools periodically test drinking water for lead—which they are not currently required to do—and notify parents and authorities of the results. The state will pay for a portion of the testing, according to the governor’s statement.
A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.