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Senators agree to reinstate mayoral control before school starts

After several hours of heated discussions, Democratic state senators emerged from a meeting today declaring that they had reached an agreement with Mayor Bloomberg on mayoral control.

Standing outside of 250 Broadway, where a dozen of the city’s senators met and others listened in by phone, Democratic conference leader John Sampson said, “One thing you can say today is, we have an agreement with respect to school governance.”

Senators cautioned that the deal’s language has yet to be finalized on paper, but what they described mirrors an earlier agreement that fell apart last week. Today’s agreement would add extra checks to a mayoral control bill passed by the Assembly, including a parent training center based out of CUNY, an increased supervisory role for superintendents, and a new citywide arts panel. According to a statement released by Sen. Carl Kruger’s office, the deal also includes the creation of a Senate subcommittee to oversee the Department of Education.

“All’s well that ends well,” said outgoing UFT president Randi Weingarten, who said that she has been acting as a “go-between” for the two sides, spending Thursday night on the phone helping to broker today’s deal.

A spokeswoman for the mayor’s office, Dawn Walker, released a statement saying:

The agreement preserves the accountability and authority necessary to ensure that the gains we’ve made — in math and reading scores, graduation rates and school safety — continue. At the same time, the agreement addresses concerns that have been raised by legislators in a way that makes sense.

Sens. Sampson and Pedro Espada were vague about when they would return to Albany to pass the Assembly’s mayoral control bill. Espada said it would happen “before children start school in September.” But Walker’s statement sets the date as the first week of August.

When the senators do return, it’s expected that they will pass the Assembly’s mayoral control bill, as well as the chapter amendment they agreed to today. Weingarten said that when the Assembly returns for session, Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver would introduce the amendment.

As usual, not everyone is on board. Throughout the afternoon, senators sent conflicting messages as to whether they had actually reached a deal with the mayor. Sens. Hiram Monserrate and Ruben Diaz Sr. left the meeting, telling the waiting press that a deal would be reached either today or tomorrow.

“The four amigos are divided today,” Diaz said in Spanish to a group of reporters. “It’s a done deal, but we’re not all in agreement.”

“We’re not exactly home yet,” Monserrate said.

Minutes later, Sens. Espada and Sampson emerged to announce that an agreement had been reached.

Sen. Bill Perkins told the Daily News’ Liz Benjamin that the issue of police presence in schools had not been addressed to his satisfaction. “I’m looking for something stronger,” he told Benjamin, who says she will believe there’s a deal when it passes the Senate.