Mayoral control of the city’s schools and the state charter-school cap may be decided outside of the budget process after all, curbing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s ambitions to tie the changes to an education funding increase.
With negotiations over the host of education policy changes Cuomo proposed as part of the state’s budget process in full swing Monday, Cuomo spokeswoman Melissa DeRosa issued a lengthy statement saying that the renewal of mayoral control and the charter cap are “more likely” to be addressed later in the legislative session.
The update offered less insight into proposals with direct implications for the city’s more than 70,000 public school teachers. Overhauling the state’s evaluation law, tenure protections and “dealing with the epidemic of failing schools,” plus proposals to retain and reward top-performing teachers are all still very much on the table, DeRosa said.
“If those reforms are passed, the Governor will support a significant funding increase,” the statement read.
That list leaves off a number of big-ticket policy proposals, including the charter-school cap and mayoral control, which DeRosa said did not mean the they were doomed.
“The charter cap and mayoral control for New York City are issues that can be addressed in the budget, or more likely in the remainder of the session,” DeRosa said. “Regardless, both should be addressed before the conclusion of the session.”
Mayoral control in New York City expires at the end of June, when the state legislative session ends.
When Cuomo made his budget proposal in January, he said that he would not support a significant education spending increase without a full package of education-policy changes. Monday’s statement implied that only state ethics reforms were now essential to a budget, though it called the education changes a “top priority.”
“The Governor said he would not sign off on a budget that doesn’t include the ethics reforms he outlined, and he meant it,” DeRosa said.
Meanwhile, sources said a statewide DREAM Act that would provide aid to undocumented immigrants and a tax credit that would incentivize private donations for private-school scholarships have both been removed from budget negotiations. Both proposals were offered as a compromise for Democrats, who support the DREAM Act, and Republicans, who support the tax credit — but each encountered vehement opposition from the other side and never gained traction.
Among the other changes still being discussed include edits to teacher evaluations, which Cuomo has proposed changing by increasing the portion of a teacher evaluation controlled by the state from 20 percent to 50 percent; a new “receivership” law that would appoint nonprofit groups, school-turnaround experts, or other school districts to oversee schools that have fallen on the state’s lowest performing list for three years; and new rules that would allow the state to close down teacher-training programs where many graduates fail to pass certification exams.
The governor has also said he wants to increase per-pupil spending for charter schools, something sources said appeared likely to make it into the final budget.
On Monday, Mayor de Blasio continued to push for mayoral control of New York City schools to be made permanent, releasing a letter to the governor and legislators in conjunction with former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who did not have control of the schools during his tenure.
“We urge the State of New York to act this legislative session to protect mayoral control of New York City public schools,” they wrote.