Albany has yet to take action on extending mayoral control of schools as the deadline looms.
The expiration of mayoral control of city schools could cost the city up to $1.6 billion over 10 years — and the city would go after the state for the bill, according to a memo from de Blasio administration officials.
Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris estimates that scrapping mayoral control and going back to the old system of local school boards would cost between $125 million and $160 million a year.
Costs would soar because under the old system, there were more than 6,000 employees doing administrative jobs across 38 community and high school districts in 2002, not counting central staff.
The city slashed 1,000 jobs after the advent of mayoral control, and today there are 4,934 staffers in regional and central offices combined, according to the memo from Shorris to Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina. Officials believe costs could get even higher because of wasteful contracts that would not be subject to oversight by the city controller, but that is not accounted for in the calculations by Shorris.
“This funding would need to come from the source of the legislative inaction, the state, and represents just one aspect of the immense toll an expiration of mayoral control would have on New York City schools,” Shorris wrote.
Meanwhile, as the battle over mayoral control raged on Sunday, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer joined the call for an extension.
“Control of the schools belongs in the hands of the mayor, and they should pass it. They shouldn’t make it a bargaining chip,” Schumer told the Daily News. “The buck has to stop somewhere.”
He said the extension “should be a lot longer than a year, because that’s not how you run a large organization of any type.”
“If they can come to an agreement, good. But if they can’t, the Senate has a responsibility to pass it,” Schumer said.
Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan wants de Blasio to agree to lift the cap on charter schools as part of a mayoral control deal, which de Blasio has balked at.
Even de Blasio’s Republican opponent Paul Massey said Sunday Albany should extend mayoral control — though he charged Hizzoner has “utterly failed” at leading the public school system.
Massey blamed de Blasio for the current impasse with just days left in the legislative session, but said state senators should nonetheless sign off on an extension of at least six months to a year.
“The bureaucratic and logistical upheaval would be a nightmare, and the kids would pay the price. I am surprisingly advocating giving control to this mayor under the circumstances,” the GOP mayoral hopeful said Sunday at a press conference at Washington Square Park.
“Mayor de Blasio has utterly failed New York kids. That’s the only reason we’re having this discussion. Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature support the idea of mayoral control.”
Massey, a former real estate executive, said Republicans reluctant to sign off on an extension could take comfort in the hope de Blasio will get the boot in the November election.
De Blasio said Sunday he does not want to tie the charter school and mayoral control issues, and warned again the schools would descend into chaos without an extension.
“This becomes too much of a political football often in Albany, where the discussion is, unless there’s additional changes in favor of charters, people talk about perhaps not extending mayoral control of education,” he said on the John Catsimatidis AM 970 radio show. “That’s never made sense to me. Mayoral control of education should be above the fray.”
Without mayoral control, running the schools would fall to local elected school boards. “Unfortunately, a lot of chaos went with that and a lot of corruption went with that, a lot of patronage went with that, and a lot of people went to jail. We’ve got to make sure never to go back to those days,” de Blasio said.
Flanagan insisted he would not agree to a long-term extension without a deal on charters, but didn’t rule out a short term extension.
“Denying charters the ability to grow and preventing parents’ ability to choose would shut the door on 20 years of proven gains in academic achievement. We can not allow that to happen, and will not grant a long-term extension of mayoral control without first ensuring that all students have opportunities,” he said Sunday.
Michael Whyland, a spokesman for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, dismissed Flanagan’s position as “more of the same. The Assembly passed an extender for every single county and local government, regardless of politics. The Senate should join us.”