The State Senate Thursday approved an extension of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's control over the New York City schools, but critics vowed tough scrutiny through a new legislative committee.
In a 47-8 vote, senators adopted an Assembly bill that continues the mayor's education authority through June 30, 2015. It also makes the Board of Education more accountable, requires that two members be parents of schoolchildren, strengthens the role of superintendents and ensures competitive bidding of contracts, The Newsday reports.
The mayor praised the vote, thanking the Senate’s Republican and Democratic leadership that pushed it through. The Senate, he said, took “a major step that will benefit millions of public school children for years to come,” Bloomberg reports.
Mayor Bloomberg said the Senate's action "preserved a system of clear accountability for our schools that has produced clear and dramatic results for our students." A spokesman for schools Chancellor Joel Klein said he was traveling and unavailable for comment, The Wall Street Journal reports.
In the meantime, the Senate also passed a resolution that gives Senators more oversight over the city's schools. It creates a new committee with subpoena powers, and was proposed by Senate Conference Leader John Sampson. Sampson had also been against extending mayoral control, but he ultimately agreed to the measure approved by the Assembly and backed by Mayor Bloomberg. Senator Carl Kruger of Brooklyn said he couldn't wait to employ the committee's new powers.
"We will do what has to be done in order to expose what's happening at the Department of Education," Kruger said, WXXI reports.