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As lawmakers near a deal, Heastie says de Blasio ‘OK with’ short mayoral control extension

De Blasio testifying in  Albany in support of renewing mayoral control in February.
De Blasio testifying in Albany in support of renewing mayoral control in February.
Geoff Decker

As state lawmakers near a final deal, Mayor Bill de Blasio has apparently resigned himself to a one-year renewal of mayoral control.

“He says we’ll live to fight another day,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie told reporters, referring to de Blasio, as his members filed out of a private meeting about the final details of a long-awaited legislative deal on Thursday. “He was OK with the one-year.”

Heastie, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and Senate leader John Flanagan announced that their end-of-session deal would extend mayoral control of New York City schools for just one year on Tuesday, and de Blasio has yet to comment publicly on the short extension, saying Wednesday that he would have “plenty to say” after the session was over. One year is a far cry from the mayor’s request in February for lawmakers to make mayoral control permanent, and could be the biggest loss for de Blasio in this year’s legislative session.

A spokesperson for de Blasio, who spoke at the Boys and Girls High School graduation ceremony Thursday morning, did not immediately confirm Heastie’s comments.

The 2002 state law that grants the mayor authority over the city school system is due to expire in five days. De Blasio had his sights set on making the law permanent, but eventually conceded that a three-year extension proposed by the Assembly and Cuomo would suffice.

But de Blasio faced an unwilling negotiating partner in the State Senate, which is controlled by Republicans, and feuded with Cuomo, a fellow Democrat with starkly different ideas about education policy. Leadership turnover in both the Assembly and the Senate further complicated the political dynamics.

Heastie said that Assembly members “were fine giving the mayor three years,” but that a one-year renewal was something that Senate Republicans were unwilling to budge from.

“I think it is wrong to not want to give the stability to New York City schools,” Heastie said. “You’d have to ask Senator Flanagan why they refused to move on it.”

Lawmakers said Thursday that they were nearing a final deal, after staying in Albany more than a week past when the legislative session was supposed to end. Final legislative language still had not been released.

Mayoral control was one of several education issues on the table during this year’s end-of-session negotiations. Lawmakers also say they agreed to a modest increase in the number of charter schools allowed to open in New York City and to changes meant to improve transparency around the state’s testing program.

Flanagan and the State Senate are scheduled to arrive at the Capitol Thursday afternoon to vote on legislation.

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