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Will New York State Lawmakers Extend Mayoral Control of Schools?

With the New York state legislative session set to end on Wednesday, lawmakers have not yet decided whether to allow New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to continue to control the city's schools.

Hoping to pressure legislators to act before the session closes—and before mayoral control expires on June 30—de Blasio planned a rally on Monday.

New York City's mayor has run the country's largest school system since 2002, when state legislators gave then-mayor Michael R. Bloomberg control of the schools. In 2009, Bloomberg got a six-year extension.

But once that term expired, legislators have voted to give de Blasio only one-year extensions.

The city's schools were overseen by a system of 32 community school boards across its five boroughs before control was handed to the mayor.

The Daily News cited a memo from the de Blasio administration that said that reverting to the community school boards system could cost the city up to $1.6 billion over 10 years. 

It's not that there is strong opposition against the concept of mayoral control in Albany, the state capital. Republican lawmakers, with whom de Blasio has a tense relationship, want to tie mayoral control to increasing the number of charter schools statewide.

With large numbers of students on charter school waiting lists, Republican John Flanagan, the Senate majority leader, wants to lift the charter cap, according to WPIX 11.

"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," Flanagan said.

But de Blasio does not think the extension should be tied to charter schools. 

"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," de Blasio said during a recent appearance on a radio show on AM 970, according to the Daily News. "That's never made sense to me. Mayoral control of education should be above the fray."

The New York Times reported that the Assembly Democratic leader, Carl E. Heastie, is against lifting the charter school cap. 

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