NEW YORK CITY — Mayor Bill de Blasio and business leaders from around the city called on the state Legislature Monday to renew mayoral control of city schools for at least three more years.
De Blasio, at a City Hall press conference surrounded by Kathryn Wylde, president and CEO of the Partnership for New York City, Dick Parsons, former chairman of Time Warner and Citigroup and Bill Rudin, CEO of Rudin Management Company and Chairman of the Association for a Better New York, called mayoral control the only system that inspires confidence in the functioning of the school system.
"There is unanimity, absolute consensus among us to renew mayoral control," he said.
The Democratic Assembly has voted to extend mayoral control of the schools for three years. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whom the mayor has been publicly battling over the city's agenda, also came out Monday in strong support of the renewal.
The current proposal from the Republican state Senate is to extend mayoral control for a year with the caveat that the Department of Education's budget be subject to approval by the Legislature.
"This is an issue that rises above the normal partisan fray," said de Blasio.
Wylde said that 75 CEOs recently signed a letter to state leaders urging them to renew mayoral control. De Blasio and other speakers said that the old system with a school board was rife with corruption.
"The loss of employer confidence in our public education system was a main contributor to our urban crisis," Wylde said.
"The last time I was in this spot behind this podium in this room it was a different mayor but it was the same issue," Parsons said. "We thought we got where we needed to go as a city. We thought things were going well but here we go again."
De Blasio said mayoral control is important because it increases the level of accountability around the management of the school system — it is clear that the "buck stops" with him.
"There was a lot of money involved in the bad old days in how our schools were run that fell into the wrong hands," he said. "That kind of corruption would reemerge if we went back to the old system of governance."
De Blasio said his expansion of pre-K would never have happened in the old days, and was "only possible under mayoral control."
De Blasio started out the legislative session asking for mayoral control of schools to be made permanent. The idea of a seven-year term was also floated. But in the end, the Assembly only agreed to a three-year renewal.
With mayoral control expiring at the end of June, de Blasio said three years is an acceptable compromise.
"I am comfortable saying 'Great, let's do three years, then let's move on and let's keep making our schools better,'" he said.