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Details emerge on how mayoral control might be modified

When senators return to work on Wednesday, they will likely vote to bring back mayoral control — but they may also pass checks that would further curb the mayor’s power.

Details about what those checks would look like began to surface last night, when four senators introduced three amendments with specific changes.

Sens. Malcolm Smith, Martin Dilan, Bill Perkins, and Shirley Huntley have all proposed bills that would amend the bill passed by the Assembly, which Mayor Bloomberg supports. Two of the bills call for state funding for a parent training center and only one would prevent the mayor from firing his appointees to the citywide school board at will.

Smith’s amendment comes as a surprise. As Senate Majority Leader, a post he held a little over a month ago, he was a vocal supporter of Bloomberg’s policies.

Smith’s bill and the Dilan/Perkins bill would give $1.6 million per year for two years to the New York University Center for Urban Education, which would run a parent training center. Another $600,000 would be divided among the city’s student success centers, which work to increase the number of students in public high schools that go to college.

Huntley’s bill would leave parent training to the borough presidents, and sets aside no extra funding for the project.

Not all Democrats are in favor of this idea. In an interview with Politicker, Assemblyman Michael Benjamin said he considered money spent on a parent training center to be money misspent. He added that if the funding did come through, it would be a “a political statement to the UFT.”

The issue of fixed terms for school board members was once a priority for mayoral control critics but has waned in support, and only the Dilan/Perkins’ bill would add them. This amendment, as well as Huntley’s, would require one of the mayor’s appointees – he’s allotted eight out of thirteen – to be the parent of a special education student.

All of the bills would limit the period that parents can serve on the Community for Education Councils to two two-year terms. They would also create a City-wide Council on the Arts and a Commission on Student Safety.

Interestingly, Democratic conference leader John Sampson, who for weeks has been the lead critic of Mayor Bloomberg’s school governance policy, has not proposed his own bill or joined the others. (Though he told the Daily News last week that he would support a separate amendment). Each of the bills will “go live” on Wednesday, though it’s unlikely they will be voted on then as there are many more pressing bills that are waiting to be taken up.

The amendments were drafted specifically to modify the Assembly’s mayoral control bill. Sponsored by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, the bill, which passed June 17, makes modest changes to the 2002-law that installed mayoral control. Critics of mayoral control have said the bill does not go far enough in checking the mayor’s power or giving parents a voice in the system.

But rather than push a wholly new bill, which would require calling the Assembly back to Albany, Smith, Huntley, Dilan, and Perkins may vote in favor of Silver’s bill and then amend it.

In order to become law, one of the three different amendments would have to be passed in conjunction with the Assembly’s mayoral control bill.

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