Shel Plays “Maybe” Game With School Control

Speaker says it's possible amendments will pass – or not

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the state Senate finally reached a deal to reauthorize mayoral control over city schools after weeks of wrangling, but there may be one roadblock left that could thwart the whole thing: Sheldon Silver

Assembly Speaker Silver declined yesterday to endorse Senate amendments to his chamber's bill, saying only that the issues would be taken up sometime in September. 

"The only guarantee that was given was that we will take them up with our conference and let them decide what they want to do with them, " Silver, speaking for the first time on the Senate deal with City Hall, told The New York Post.

"It's possible all will pass, possible none will pass, or some of them [will] pass with various amendments," he said.

Last month, the Assembly overwhelmingly passed a bill renewing mayoral control over city schools with a few minor changes to increase oversight and parental involvement. Bloomberg endorsed the bill after months of back-and-forth, but mayoral control lapsed on July 1 when the Senate failed to address the law amid a heated leadership battle that stymied state politics for a month.

School control reverted to the hands of a Board of Education that didn't exist, so Bloomberg had to quickly rebuild the seven-member board until the Senate decided to do its job.

Last week, Senate Democratic Conference head John Sampson, of Brooklyn, announced a deal with City Hall to pass the Assembly-approved mayoral-control bill plus four amendments city senators brought to the table. Those changes called for the creation of a $1.7 million parent-training center, an arts advisory committee, public meetings on school safety and review of principals and the quality of curriculum.

Senators are expected to approve the bill, including the add-ons, prior to the beginning of the new school year. Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein have promised to implement the changes immediately – as a sign of good intentions and in case the Assembly doesn't address them, according to the Post.

There's one catch: Senators say they agreed to renew mayoral control if – and only if – the Assembly would ratify their changes and Gov. Paterson would sign them into law.

And if the Assembly won't hold up their end of the deal, the senators are threatening to renege on theirs.

Passing the amendments "was part of the agreement," Sen. Shirley Huntley (D-Queens), told the Post. "If the Assembly doesn't vote on our amendments, we're not bringing up the main bill. Why should we?"

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