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Senate, Bloomberg reach deal on mayoral control of schools

The state Senate majority conference reached an agreement on school governance with Mayor Michael Bloomberg Friday, and lawmakers said the bill they are expected to vote on and pass will give more of a voice to parents and strengthen the role of community superintendents.

Legislators said the Senate is expected to greenlight the bill they say enhances arts education and addresses school safety concerns before the school year begins in September.

“Establishing greater avenues for parental input in our schools will better prepare students to contribute as our next generation of thinkers, workers and leaders,” Senate President Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) said in a prepared statement. “The more engaged parents are, the better an education our children receive. We now have a system designed to serve their needs and provide the education our children deserve.”

The agreement, brokered in Manhattan Friday, calls for the creation of a parent training center that would be run by the City University of New York, better define the role of superintendents to give them more power, establish an arts advisory committee that would make recommendations and issue annual reports on educational arts policy, and require schools to hold open public meetings on school safety.

Mayoral control was implemented in 2002 and expired in June after the state Senate failed to renew the bill that Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein say have helped them to boost test scores and graduation rates. Parents and some Queens lawmakers, including state Assemblymen Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) and Mark Weprin (D-Little Neck), have said Bloomberg and Klein have manipulated the law to usurp power from parents and school administrators.

Relations between state senators and the Bloomberg administration had grown increasingly tense after lawmakers failed to renew the law, and on Thursday legislators, including state Sen. Hiram Monserrate (D-Jackson Heights), railed against Bloomberg on the steps of City Hall for not negotiating on mayoral control.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.

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