Political News

No deal on NYC schools as state lawmakers eye adjournment

Posted 6:17 p.m. Monday
Updated 6:19 p.m. Monday

— New York lawmakers began their final scheduled week of legislative work Monday but made no visible progress on a deal to extend New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's control of his city's schools.

The policy, first enacted in 2002, expires June 30 if lawmakers don't vote to continue it. Legislators plan to adjourn for the year Wednesday.

Democrats, including de Blasio, Assembly leaders and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, back a multiyear extension. But the Senate's Republican leaders say they want to see any renewal of the policy include help for charter schools, such as a higher cap on the number of charters allowed in New York City.

So far, both the Assembly and Senate are holding firm, prompting some to predict they may adjourn Wednesday, possibly returning later this summer to pass an agreement if one emerges.

"We still have two days to get it done," said Sen. Jeff Klein, D-Bronx.

If mayoral oversight were to lapse, control of city schools would revert to a single board of education and many local districts within the city. De Blasio said Monday that could lead to as much as $1.6 billion in added administrative costs over 10 years.

"We're not going back to a broken system," de Blasio said at a rally for mayoral control Monday in New York City. "I say if Albany doesn't give us back mayoral control then they should pay the $1.6 billion dollars that it will cost.

Senate Leader John Flanagan, a Long Island Republican, has said he supports mayoral control but that it's imperative to support charter schools as an alternative to traditional public schools. He said 50,000 children are now on charter waiting lists in the city — showing the need for more of the schools.

The number of charters allowed within the city and across the state is set in state law. Currently, there's room for 23 new charters in the city. Advocates say it takes years to start a charter school and that organizers want assurances they won't bump up against the cap before beginning the process.

"I still think we have time to reach an agreement," Flanagan said in response to questions from reporters about whether the Legislature would adjourn Wednesday even without a deal on city schools. "And yes, we're leaving Wednesday."

Lawmakers will pass scores of other bills before adjourning. They include a measure toughening penalties for opioid dealers and another that would loosen the statute of limitations on child sex crimes so victims have more time to sue or seek criminal charges.

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