New York City mayor gets direct control over school system
Associated Press WriterNEW YORK (AP) -- Gov. George Pataki signed legislation Wednesday that gives Mayor Michael Bloomberg control of the city's school system.
The 1.1-million-student system will become Bloomberg's direct responsibility beginning July 1.
"With the most sweeping education reform in a generation, we will improve accountability in every school, empower parents in every borough, and provide every child with the opportunity to receive a good education," Pataki said.
The law -- enacted after months of negotiations -- comes after 25 years of efforts by mayors to win control of the nation's largest school system.
Currently, the system is run by a seven-member Board of Education and a chancellor. The mayor appoints two of the board members; the rest are appointed by each of the city's five borough presidents. The chancellor, who is the school system's chief executive, is selected by board members.
The new law expands the Board of Education to 13 members, including the chancellor, and lets the mayor pick the chancellor and seven other board members. The borough presidents will pick the remaining five.
Bloomberg ran on a campaign last year to reform the city's schools, which are beset by low test scores, high dropout rates and a teacher shortage.
"Today we are making history," he said in a statement. "This reform of school governance will fundamentally change the way in which we manage the education of our children. We will no longer have to tolerate an incapable bureaucracy, which does not respond to the needs of the students."
The legislation also disbands 32 elected local school boards that give parents a say in their youngsters' education. Hearings will be held during the next several months to determine what role parents will have in the new system.